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Opposition primaries reach their second phase

August 25th, 2021

As potential candidates for the September opposition primaries gather signatures for the ballots, a left-wing commentator sees the primary process as a promising experiment.

The joint opposition candidate for Prime Minister will be chosen in two rounds in September and in October, while single opposition candidates for seats in Parliament will be elected on a first-past-the-post basis in one round in September. Therefore, parties made no deals for their nominees for Prime Minister, but did so in many constituencies throughout the country, during the first stage of the primary process. Now, the nominees for PM need 20 thousand supporting signatures to get onto the ballot, while the candidates for MP need 4 hundred each.

In Népszava, Róbert Friss remarks that the primaries, an absolute novelty in Hungarian politics, have been made necessary by the electoral law passed by the governing majority, whereby MPs from individual constituencies are elected in a single round. This meant in practice that the disparate forces of the opposition did not have a real chance to win the elections in 2014 or 2018. Without explicitly mentioning the pacts between parties to avoid competition and thus lose in the primaries in the individual constituencies, Friss warns that the opposition should not supply arguments for pro-government propagandists who disingenuously call the primaries a sham. Meanwhile, he personally finds it sad that ‘even the opposition is not yet fully ripe for direct democracy’.  Nevertheless, he hopes the primaries will help the opposition unseat the incumbent government next year.

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