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Opposition nominates Péter Róna for President

February 21st, 2022

Political commentators across the political spectrum find Péter Róna, the opposition parties’ nominee for President, a less than ideal candidate, although no opposition candidate in any case stands a chance of election by the strong Fidesz majority in Parliament.

Népszava’s Miklós Hargitai thinks that Péter Róna is a ‘morally legitimate’ candidate for President, but may not be the best pick politically. The left-wing commentator suggests that Katalin Novák, the governing party’s nominee, only represents a radical minority in Hungary, would divide Hungary even more as President, and would legitimize Fidesz’ policies that, according to Hargitai, keep one-third of Hungarians in poverty. Róna, by contrast, he writes, represents voters from all political ideologies, including conservatives. Hargitai considers it a major achievement for the opposition to agree on a joint candidate, but nonetheless thinks that there would have been better choices available. The candidate receives just a 15 minute speech in Parliament to present an alternative vision to that of the government.

Magyar Narancs in a first page editorial criticises the choice of Péter Róna. The left-wing liberal weekly notes that Péter Márki-Zay wanted to name Gábor Iványi, a Methodist pastor and former Liberal MEP as candidate for President. The opposition parties, however, picked Róna, whose name was originally put forward by Jobbik. Magyar Narancs contends that Róna is not at qualified for this role, and his nomination shows that the opposition parties are still very divided and cannot agree on a candidate that would best serve their collective purpose.

168 Óra in its unsigned editorial contends that Gábor Iványi would have been a better pick. The left-wing weekly thinks that Iványi could have delivered a harsh critique of the government as he used to be a close friend of Prime Minister Orbán.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Boróka Parászka also lambasts the opposition for chosing Róna as their candidate for President. The left-wing liberal pundit believes that the opposition missed a chance to show unity by picking a candidate after a long internal debate that made their ideological cleavages publicly visible.

Élet és Irodalom’s editor-in-chief Zoltán Kovács is disappointed to find that the opposition considered the nomination as a partisan matter. The liberal pundit is less than convinced that Róna would increase the popularity of the opposition. Kovács also notes that Róna was harshly criticized by former National Bank President András Simor, who once dismissed Róna an immoral, unscrupulous social climber.

In Magyar Nemzet, László Szőcs finds Péter Róna falling short of having a proper Hungarian identity. The pro-government columnist recalls that Róna, who left Hungary as a child in 1956, once said that he feels more at home in Oxford than Hungary. Szőcs adds that in the 70s and 90s, Róna briefly advised the US government, ‘including the CIA’ on Hungarian affairs. In light of this, Szőcs sees Róna as a candidate who could not represent or even identify with a Hungary engaged in ‘a war of national identity’.

Too much ado about nothing, comments, Ádám Fekő on Azonnali. The liberal columnist believes that Hungarian voters do not care much about the election of their President, whose role is mostly symbolic and can act as an ‘influencer’ only, Fekő believes, adding that the opposition should have abstained from the vote rather than nominating a 79 year-old to represent progressive values.

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