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Viktor Orban didn't talk about him. Did not help. Peter Magyar – a new player in Hungary

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The European Parliament elections in Hungary were clearly won by Viktor Orban's Fidesz party, but the local media and analysts point out that the second place was taken by Peter Magyar's TISZA party. They note that he is a political novice who is becoming the main political opponent of the current prime minister. – Although Fidesz has retained its dominant position on the Hungarian political scene, it has not had such a strong opponent as Magyar since 2010 – says political scientist Gabor Gyori.

The ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition won 44.8 percent of the votes in Sunday's European Parliament elections, which resulted in 11 seats. – We have won important victories in a difficult battle in a war situation (the war in Ukraine – ed.) – Orban said after the announcement of the election results. – Today we defeated the old and new opposition – added the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Peter Magyar second in Hungary

Second place went to the TISHA party of Peter Magyar, Orban's main critic. Despite the fact that Magyar appeared on the Hungarian political scene only a few months ago, he managed to gain support of 30 percent, which translates into seven seats.

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As Reuters writes, Magyar, as a “political novice”, entered Hungarian politics at the beginning of this year, promising to root out corruption and restore democratic checks and balances in Hungary, which critics of Orban's government say have been severely undermined by him.

Magyar, commenting on Sunday's election results, said that this result was the “Waterloo of Orban's power factory” and the “beginning of the end” of his rule.

Peter Magyar on election night PAP/EPA/Robert Hegedus

The 24.hu portal comments that Magyar interrupted the two-decade era of rivalry between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former head of government Ferenc Gyurcsany. The TISHA party, which is “basically a one-man political venture”, is closing in on Fidesz in polls, while the Hungarian left has been “broken into atoms”. Although Fidesz won one and a half times more votes than TISHA on Sunday, the pace at which Magyar's popularity is growing worries Orban's camp, writes 24.hu. “As a newcomer, Magyar has achieved almost as much as the six-party (opposition) coalition in 2022,” he adds.

A new player who dominated the opposition

Political scientist Gabor Gyori, an analyst at the Policy Solutions think tank, said in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that although Orban seemed not to notice Magyar in public and rarely spoke about him, it was part of an election tactic so as not to make his opponent even stronger. – However, the government camp does not underestimate the new player on the Hungarian political scene, who after a few months dominated the opposition – added the analyst, recalling, for example, the scale of attention paid to Magyar by the state media.

Although Fidesz has retained its dominant position on the Hungarian political scene, it has not had such a strong opponent as Magyar since 2010, Gyori noted. Neither the left nor the nationalist Jobbik were as strong in their best times as the TISHA party is today, he emphasized.

A rival for Orban and Fidesz

The expert noted that Magyar achieved great electoral success even despite the lack of serious resources for campaigning, not only compared to the resources of Fidesz, but even of opposition parties. – The level of 30 percent support without large financing and practically without election advertising is an impressive achievement – admitted Gyori.

– If these were parliamentary elections, we would be talking about a very clear victory for Fidesz – said the political scientist. He recalled that 10 years ago, Orban's party won about 44 percent, which gave it two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. However, the current result and the loss of two seats compared to the 2019 elections are perceived by the media and analysts as a failure of the ruling camp.

According to the expert, a strong opposition party to the Fidesz-KDNP coalition will make the system more competitive, which is what it has not been for years due to a weak and divided opposition.

Viktor Orbán European Union

Against the background of national politics, a fierce race for the mayor of Budapest

Gyori also commented on the results of the local elections in Budapest, where the competition between the two main candidates for the mayor's office lasted until the very end. After counting one hundred percent of the votes, the current head of the Hungarian capital, Gergely Karacsony, defeated David Vitezy by only 324 votes, i.e. the difference was 0.04 percent.

Due to the casting of over 24,000 invalid ballots, Vitezy previously announced a request for a recount of votes. Gyori says it's a possibility, although changing the final outcome seems unlikely.

According to the analyst, cooperation between Karacsony and Vitezy is possible even despite the harsh election campaign. – Vitezy is a good expert, but not a person who is comfortable to work with, Gyori noted. In his opinion, Karacsony will rather have to seek cooperation with Magyar, whose party won 10 seats in the City Assembly, the same number as the Fidesz-KDNP coalition.

Although Magyar has announced on various occasions his distance from both Fidesz and opposition parties, the specifics of managing the capital are slightly different, says the political scientist. – We are not talking about coalitions in parliament, but about voting on practical matters relating to Budapest. The Magyar party will have to take a specific position in them, Gyori emphasized. He added that it would be much easier for Karacsony to cooperate with Magyar than with Fidesz, which automatically blocked every opposition initiative.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/Robert Hegedus



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