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Weeklies weigh up Márki-Zay

January 17th, 2022

Pro-government pundits claim the opposition candidate for Prime Minister is absolutely unfit for the job. Left-wing commentators also remark on his clumsiness, but disagree whether this is a weakness or a strength.

In Mandiner, Dániel Kacsoh believes that the six parties of the opposition would be happy to get rid of Márki-Zay, because they think he is eroding their popularity with his clumsy statements. He quotes as an example the way the opposition front-runner dismissed the accusation that he was teaming up with anti-Semites, namely the leaders of the formerly far-right Jobbik party. Márki-Zay responded that there are Jewish people in Fidesz’s ranks, but not many, and went on to accuse the government side of anti-Semitism. Kacsoh retorts that the new Israeli government has recently thanked Hungary for supporting its cause on the international scene; the government spends billions on Holocaust remembrance structures and introduced a Holocaust Remembrance Day when Fidesz was first in government 20 years ago.

In Demokrata, Lászkó Szentesi Zöldi maintains that Márki-Zay will be withdrawn after all from the scene by his allies, because otherwise, Hungary is in for the most ridiculous campaign of all time. The opposition, he asserts, has no programme nor does it have a leader who would be able to speak in consistent terms. If the opposition gets rid of its current front-runner, however, it will find it hard to explain why it held a primary in October in the first place. In a sarcastic final remark, he calls on his readers to go and vote for Fidesz in April to give the opposition sufficient time to pull itself together.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta suggest that the opposition should not mind Márki-Zay’s clumsy style. His habit of spreading gossip or even falsehoods actually does work, Tóta thinks. His aggressive and insolent style may not please sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal pundit explains, but they are not the only ones who detest PM Orbán and his regime. There are also people who express their anger in pubs or on social media sites and those are the very undecided voters whom the opposition should win over. Thanks to Márki-Zay’s verbal excesses, Tóta concludes, they have at least now realised that there is finally a challenger to the incumbent Prime Minister.

In an interview with 168óra, Attila Tibor Nagy takes Márki-Zay’s regular gaffes as proof that he is unfamiliar with the world of politics and behaves in public as if he were in private company. Such attitudes were surprisingly profitable five years ago in Donald Trump’s case, he recalls. However, what worked in the United States is unlikely to work in Hungary because discontent with the ruling elite is much more limited here. 90 percent of Hungarians are owners of their own houses or flats, and prefer stability to uncertainty. Nevertheless, Nagy doesn’t fully exclude an opposition victory in the elections on 3 April. For that to happen, however, some extraordinary scandal involving the government would need to erupt in the meantime.


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