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Voting in opposition primaries underway

September 20th, 2021

As voting begins in the opposition primaries to choose PM Orbán’s challenger, weeklies and the weekend editions of dailies wonder whether the opposition would and could overhaul the constitution even in the absence of the required two-thirds majority.

In Magyar Demokrata, Balázs Szolomayer, analyst of the pro-government Center for Fundamental Rights takes it for granted that the opposition primary will be won by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony. He suspects that Karácsony would be accepted as a good compromise by all opposition parties as he has no strong network or institutional hinterland. Szolomayer thinks that Karácsony will be branded as a newcomer to distance him from the past Socialist-Liberal governments. The ‘Stop Gyurcsány! Stop Karácsony!’ billboard campaign launched by Fidesz attempts to remind voters of Karácsony’s involvement in left-wing politics dating back to the early 2000s, he remarks.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zoltán Felföldi likens the program of the opposition candidates to Communist ideology in the 1950s under the Rákosi dictatorship. The pro-government commentator recalls that in the primary debate, opposition candidates tried to outbid each other by promising to punish government politicians including threats to imprison them and freeze their assets. Felföldi finds even more outrageous the idea that DK candidate Klára Dobrev has said she would suspend the constitution even without securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Felföldi contends that this pledge may amount to a call for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order. He suggests that this may qualify as a felony under Hungarian criminal law and therefore it may well be the opposition that ends up in jail.

Népszava’s Péter Németh accuses the government of violating the constitutional ban on anyone striving for the exclusive possession of power. The left-wing pundit agrees with  opposition candidates that without overhauling the constitution, the opposition would not be able to effectively govern the country, as all key positions are held by pro-government individuals who, according to Hungary’s Fundamental Law drafted by Fidesz, cannot be replaced before their terms expire. Németh admits that many on the Left caution against any overhaul of the constitutional system in the absence of a two-thirds majority. He, however, finds it complacent to stick to democratic norms in a country which is not democratic. Németh concludes by suggesting that in order to restore the democratic order, the opposition, once in government, must use extraordinary measures and go ahead with the suspension of the constitution even if it only has a simple majority in Parliament.

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