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Opposition embarrassment with Péter Magyar

April 22nd, 2024

Opposition-leaning commentators find inconsistencies in Péter Magyar’s interpretation of current affairs, first of all in his views about Ukraine.

In Heti Világgazdaság, political scientist Márton Bede believes that the new opposition star owes his rapid success to the vagueness of his proposals. His communication, he explains, is based on three elements – hope, enthusiasm, and anti-elite feelings. All three have made a great impact on social media and none of these are offered by other opposition parties. People see no hope of political change from his opposition rivals, because they lost four consecutive elections to Fidesz, he writes. On the other hand, a new actor can galvanise their imaginations – as long as his promises are less than concrete, he concludes.

In its page 2 editorial, Magyar Narancs agrees with the leaders of LMP and Momentum who lashed out at Péter Magyar’s assessment of the Ukraine conflict. In a radio interview, Magyar said Ukraine completely fails to meet European standards; much of its arable lands are in the hands of oligarchs and foreign investors and much of the population is Russian-speaking, he suggested. This is sheer Russian propaganda, Magyar Narancs suggests and attributes such opinions to Magyar’s past within the ruling Fidesz elite. The liberal weekly also criticises Magyar’s statement that he could imagine a coalition with Fidesz once it gets rid of Orbán and his closest associates. ‘We could imagine a better offer, the editors write, but many people seem to be ready to put up with that little’.

In Magyar Hang, Dávid Lakner finds such criticism exaggerated. In his statement about Ukraine, he explains, Péter Magyar never hesitated to pinpoint Russia as the aggressor or support Ukraine’s right to defend itself against the invasion. So even if some of his remarks on Ukraine came over as lame or mistaken, Lakner suggests, it would be unjust to accuse him of parroting Russian propaganda. In fact, he writes, he has been accused by pro-government propagandists of ‘warmongering’, which means taking Ukraine’s side.

In Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Ádám sees Magyar as representative of one of the main currents of today’s opposition to the government, alongside the Democratic Coalition. His problem is that both are what he calls ‘populists’ – they indulge in cheap promises. Regime change, he believes, will only become possible when liberal democrats achieve at least a relative majority within the opposition.

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