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A televised duel between Orbán and Márki-Zay deemed unlikely

January 31st, 2022

A liberal media expert and a highly opinionated right-wing pundit equally believe that Prime Minister Orbán will not agree to a televised debate with the opposition front-runner in the run-up to the April election.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Gábor Polyák argues that the public would be highly interested in a duel between the two main candidates before the election, and points out that a similar debate preceding the opposition primary was viewed by a record audience on the opposition-leaning ATV channel, although ATV is only received by households with a cable connection. Remarkably, that debate was the 13th most followed programme among all television shows in Hungary over the past year. Nevertheless, he understands the Prime Minister’s reluctance to debate with Márki-Zay. Such a show would carry the message that he can lose the election, and that he was not appointed Hungarian Prime Minister by either God, or Providence. Polyák also believes such a debate would show that Fidesz has no programme and is practising what he calls ‘intuitive governance’.

In his customary weekly editorial in Demokrata, András Bencsik opines that Mr Márki-Zay is a weightless personality. If the opposition wins, DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány will never allow him to be elected Prime Minister, while if they lose, he will be a grey MP without even a Parliamentary group behind him. Therefore, he continues, Prime Minister Orbán has no interest in elevating him to the position of an equal. Public debates tend to equalise the positions of the contenders, Bencsik explains, therefore he would find it highly irrational on the part of the Prime Minister to agree to such a televised duel.

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