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Opposition holds first primary debate

September 15th, 2021

Commentators right across the political spectrum agree that the opposition candidates avoided fierce disputes and divisive topics in order to show unity.

On Index, Gábor Török thinks that the opposition candidates avoided a harsh and polarizing debate to maintain their image of unity, while still managing to display their different personalities and characters. The centrist analyst points out that the opposition needs to come up with a leader to convince voters that it will be able to govern the country. After the first debate, there is still no indication that they will succeed in producing a strong candidate, Török concludes.

Klub Rádió’s János Dési finds it both reassuring and promising that opposition candidates had a calm and polite discussion. The left-liberal commentator expresses his hope that the civilized debate indicates that the opposition parties will to be able to broker compromises and govern together if they win the 2022 Parliamentary election. Dési finds it a good idea that the candidates avoided discussion of the most divisive issues in Hungarian politics, including migration. He concludes by underscoring that the opposition can only win if the opposition parties show strong solidarity towards each other.

In a disappointed note on Azonnali, Rafael Petróczi laments that the opposition candidates used the opportunity to repeat their campaign slogans rather than engaging in a real dispute. He agrees that a fierce debate would be harmful for the opposition, but adds that the opposition would need to convince voters that they have a credible plan to govern the country. He thinks that at least the moderator should have asked some tough questions rather than allow candidates to ‘bullshit around’, as he puts it. As one example of an undisputed and vague utterance, he mentions a statement by Democratic Coalition’s Klára Dobrev that she would rewrite the constitution even in the absence of securing a two-thirds majority – without explaining how this could be possible.

Magyar Hírlap’s Ervin Nagy wonders if social turmoil will follow in case the opposition wins in 2022. The conservative commentator interprets the opposition candidates’ threat to rewrite the constitution even without a two-thirds majority as a threat to the legal order, the rule of law and democracy.  Opposition candidates have become increasingly radical, and their rhetoric reminds Nagy of the language used by Bolsheviks in the wake of both world wars. He adds that in both cases, verbal attacks were followed by violence. In an aside, Nagy wonders if Brussels would speak out to ‘defend the rule of law and democracy from the Left’.

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