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Opposition candidates excel in repeat local elections

November 15th, 2019

A left-wing and a pro-government columnist ponder the implications of the victory of an opposition candidate who once quoted Adolf Hitler and Ferenc Szálasi (leader of the Fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross Party, executed in 1946) in the repeat election in the city of Jászberény.

On Sunday, repeat local elections were held in ten municipalities. In most of those localities, opposition candidates performed better than in October. In the city of Jászberény, Jobbik’s Lóránt Budai supported by all opposition parties won with 62 percent of the votes against the Fidesz candidate after a very close result a month ago. According to a report on Hir TV aired before the repeat election, Mr. Budai a couple of years ago posted Hitler and Szálasi quotes on his Facebook profile.

Népszava’s Miklós Hargitai interprets Sunday’s results as a huge victory for the opposition. Hargitai thinks that the repeat elections show that Hungarians are increasingly fed up with the government, and they are willing to support any candidate supported jointly by the opposition. Concerning Mr Budai’s victory in Jászberény, Hargitai contends that voters supported him because they considered his earlier racist Facebook messages less harmful than ‘the racist stereotypes that are part of the government’s everyday practice and communication’. Hargitai goes so far as to accuse the government of ‘using Nazi fear-mongering as a political marketing tool’ against Budai.

On Hír TV, Bence Apáti finds it peculiar that the opposition celebrates as a victory the election of someone with Hitler and Szálasi sympathies. The pro-government pundit recalls that the same politicians and intellectuals who do not seem to be bothered by Mr Budai’s documented racism used to accuse the government of Fascist and even Nazi sympathies without any tangible evidence. In a passing reference to Hargitai’s article, Apáti claims that those who accuse the government of using Mr Budai’s Facebook posts as ‘a political marketing tool’ are cynical and apply double standards. He concludes that the case shows that ‘left-wing propagandists’ do whatever they think helps to defeat Prime Minister Orbán and Fidesz.

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