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Weeklies on the opposition primary home stretch

October 18th, 2021

Weeklies published before the closing of the opposition primary on Saturday assessed the chances of the frontrunners, their prospects in the April general election and the main tasks of the opposition, after the primary.

In an article in the left-wing 168 Óra, pro-government analyst Tamás Lánczi alleges that the opposition primary was counter-productive. The primary has polarized the Left and the fierce and personal dispute between the two contenders is likely to alienate voters, Lánczi continues. Whoever becomes the opposition candidate for Prime Minister, the real winner will be Ferenc Gyurcsány, Lánczi claims, since he stayed out of the mud-slinging and his position as leader of the largest left-wing group in Parliament will give him the upper hand – even if Márki-Zay becomes PM.

Writing in the same weekly, Richard Szentpéteri Nagy contends that the candidates as well as most partisan analysts went too far when they suggested that their opponents stood no chance of defeating PM Orbán. Such statements will make it more difficult for the winner of the primary to unite voters and convince them that they can win the election, the left-wing commentator laments.

Demokrata’s László Szentesi Zöldi writes that the Right should be grateful for the opposition initiative to hold the primary. In the pro-government columnist’s interpretation, leaders of the opposition politically annihilated each other. The biggest losers are Jobbik leader Péter Jakab, ex Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr, and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, Zöldi Szentesi writes. He predicts that if Márki-Zay wins the primary, we can expect another great show, as Márki-Zay is likely to have huge disputes with the Democratic Coalition, the strongest opposition party. Zöldi Szentesi is convinced that Fidesz will defeat the fragmented opposition in the April election.

In a first page editorial, Magyar Narancs ponders the chances of the two candidates to defeat the governing parties in April. The liberal weekly does not directly answer the question, but remarks that Dobrev got more votes both in urban and rural areas than Márki-Zay in the first round. Magyar Narancs also finds it unlikely that Márki-Zay could attract more conservative and right-wing voters in April than Dobrev. The most important thing is moderation now, the authors write, calling on candidates not to inflict deep wounds on each other in the last days of the primary campaign. From next week, the opposition will need to work shoulder to shoulder to defeat Fidesz in six months.

Heti Világgazdaság’s Árpád W. Tóta calls on the opposition to name a shadow government after the conclusion of the primary. The liberal pundit suggests that by doing so, the opposition could further increase its support and convince voters that it is ready to govern the country. This move would also help voters unhappy with the primary results to reconnect with the opposition and overcome their disappointment, Tóta surmises.

In an upbeat article in Élet és Irodalom, left-liberal political adviser Attila Juhász sees the primary as a successful exercise. He recalls that the turnout was more than twice higher than expected, which shows the strength of the opposition. The primaries also increased the visibility of the opposition, and offered them a chance to connect to a broad range of voters, he adds. He goes on to acknowledge that the primary also highlighted the deep ideological differences within the opposition. Juhász, however, thinks that the different visions can help the opposition woo voters – as long as ideological rifts are not too deep and the disputes are not too harsh.

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