Outsider Peter Marki-Zay, a 49-year-old Conservative, won the Hungarian opposition’s primary election on Sunday and will be the running mate of incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Orban in 2022. “Hungary should strengthen ties with the European Union, prepare for the economy to adopt the euro and join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, “he told Reuters.

He said Viktor Orban’s close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, China and Turkey were not in line with what he called European values.

Marki-Zay also said he would review agreements with Russia and China if he became prime minister, including a 12.5 billion-euro contract to expand the Paks nuclear power plant, which was awarded Rosatom without a tender, and high-speed rail link between Budapest and Belgrade.

Peter Marki-Zay, 49, a practicing Catholic and father of seven, received 56.71% of the vote, according to results announced Sunday night through Monday by the primary election commission, writes dpa, according to Agerpres.

“We want a new, cleaner, fairer Hungary, not just to replace Orban,” he said in the victory speech, referring to the 2010 nationalist prime minister.

He praised the unprecedented process of mayors, which made it possible to select candidates across the country, “able to escape the most corrupt system in Hungary’s millennial history” in the legislative elections scheduled for April next year.

Marki-Zay will lead an alliance of six opposition parties against Orban.

His candidate, pro-European center-left lawyer Klara Dobrev, won 43.29% of the vote. “From now on, I support Marki-Zay,” she said, quickly acknowledging her defeat.

The primary elections nominated the candidate for the position of head of government, but also for the parliamentary mandate in each constituency.

Organizers called it “an incredible success.” He mobilized over 800,000 voters during the two rounds or almost 10% of the electorate of this European Union (EU) member country with 9.8 million inhabitants.

On Sunday, 662,016 voters participated, according to the data of the commission for the primary elections.

“There are a lot of people compared to countries that, unlike Hungary where such a thing has never happened before, have a long tradition of primary elections,” Marta V. Naszalyi, chief environmentalist in Sector One of the polls, told AFP. Budapest.

For the first round, five candidates entered and Peter Marki-Zay managed to get 20% of the vote, in the context in which he spent only 10,000 euros for the campaign, without financial or logistical support from a political party.

Presenting himself as an anti-elite and anti-corruption candidate, this former voter of Fidesz, Viktor Orban’s party, won mainly due to the votes of the youngest.

He has lived in the United States and Canada for five years and says he no longer recognizes himself in the prime minister’s politics, accused of corruption and authoritarianism.

In 2018, Peter Marki-Zay won the municipal elections in the town of Hodmezovasarhely (southeast), with 44,000 inhabitants, a stronghold of the ruling majority.

After the first round of the primary elections, he came in third, but benefited from the withdrawal of the liberal and environmental mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony (27%).

The latter estimated that the opposition would have a better chance of winning the legislative elections against Viktor Orban if Klara Dobrev did not lead the coalition. She came out on top at the end of September with 35% of the vote.

The supporters of the center-left candidate, from the main opposition party, the Democratic Coalition (DK), highlighted her experience in the European Parliament, where she holds the position of vice-president.

But the fact that she is the wife of former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany would be a handicap for her, according to polls.

The latter has been very unpopular since private conversations appeared in the press in which he admitted that he lied about the real state of the country ‘s economy, which almost went bankrupt in 2008.

Peter Marki-Zay’s victory is “a nightmare for Viktor Orban,” said analyst Robert Laszlo. “Unlike Klara Dobrev, he cannot be easily ridiculed by the prime minister as Ferenc Gyurcsany’s puppet,” he added.

“He was the least wanted mayoral candidate by Fidesz and seems able to attract new voters who are still undecided,” the analyst told AFP.

After years of quarrels and a series of defeats, this is the first time the opposition has decided to present a common front. A marriage of interest, supported by promising results in the 2019 municipal elections and favorable polls.

The parties represented in the Hungarian parliament, liberals, environmentalists, social democrats or far-right, signed a joint statement, accusing Viktor Orban of tailoring the electoral law to prevent alternation, and committed to a government program.

Editor : R.K.

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