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Weeklies on the primary runoff

October 11th, 2021

By the time the news broke on Friday that Klára Dobrev will face a single challenger, namely Péter Márki-Zay, in the second round of the primaries to choose the opposition prime ministerial candidate in next years elections, the weeklies were already on the newsstands. They could therefore not react to Gergely Karácsonys withdrawal from the race, but most did comment on MárkiZays surprisingly successful performance.

One of the victims of Karácsonys sudden decision to give up the race is Demokratas editor András Bencsik who, in his weekly editorial, describes the Budapest Mayor of the capital as the preordained winner of the primary. Bencsik predicts that Karácsony and Klára Dobrev will run in tandem for the post of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister next year. If the opposition wins the election, he speculates, Karácsony will ultimately stick to his post as Mayor of Budapest and DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány will grab the post of Prime Minister, while his wife, Klára Dobrev will be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In Mandiner, Gergely Szilvay claims that whoever becomes Prime Minister if the opposition wins the elections, that person will have to do what the DK says, because Mr Gyurcsánys party will have the largest left-wing group in Parliament. If nevertheless the DK is not able to get its way, the government will resemble a cart driven in opposite directions by three horses, he predicts. As for Mr Márki-Zay, Szilvay describes him as too left-wing for right-wingers and too right-wing for left-wingers and thus doomed to find himself in a political no mans land.

In its customary first page editorial, Magyar Narancs admits that Péter Márki-Zay may be disliked by many left-wing voters, but urges them to support him wholeheartedly if he wins the primary. Under usual conditions, the editors continue, the Prime Minister is chosen by the largest parliamentary group, but opposition supporters must accept the outcome of the primary, whichever candidate triumphs, in order to keep the disparate forces of the opposition united.

In Jelen, editor Zoltán Lakner explains why Mr Márki-Zay opposes Ms Dobrevs candidacy. His main problem is that if she wins the primary, the Democratic Coalition will find itself in a dominant position within the opposition alliance. A second reason why Márki-Zay believes he is a better candidate to beat Prime Minister Orbán next year is that Ms Dobrevs image is inseparable from that of her husband, DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány who is unpopular among uncommitted voters whose support would be indispensable to send the incumbent government packing.

Heti Világgazdaság devotes two opinion columns to the primary with both dedicating a few lines to Márki-Zay. Árpád W. Tóta believes integrating Márki-Zay and his supporters into the opposition camp may be the key to victory. He finds it vital for the opposition to offer conservative voters an alternative to Fidesz. Márki-Zay, he remarks, could not do the job on his own and, for the moment, there is no organised movement behind him.

István Dévényi, who is a staff writer at Magyar Hang, warns this time in Heti Világgazdaság that should Klára Dobrev win the primary, he and many hundreds of thousands of uncommitted voters would not find themselves represented by the opposition. Luckily enough, he continues, Márki-Zay represents an alternative that can be accepted by centrist people like himself. He takes that possibility as being the main merit of the opposition primary.

In 168 óra, Richárd Szentpéteri Nagy, a well-known critic of the opposition primary, reiterates his position that the accusations hurled by the competing personalities at each other may have created lasting divisions within the opposition alliance. Although the second round of the primary will last until the end of the week, he already urges the supporters of all candidates to put the wounds they have suffered during the primary campaign behind them, as soon as possible.

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