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Péter Magyar still in focus

April 8th, 2024

Weeklies attach more importance to Peter Magyar’s appearance on the political scene than during the first two weeks of his sudden surge as the most popular critic of the government.

In Magyar Hang, veteran political analyst László Kéri describes the ’Magyar phenomenon’ as only seemingly a one-man show. In reality, he suggests, he represents ’a third Hungary’ entering the political arena – people who do not owe allegiance to either the forces of the opposition or of the government. Magyar, he believes, stands for a traditional Christian middle-class which has grown disappointed with Fidesz.

Jelen’s Zoltán Lakner, believes, by way of contrast, that Magyar represents Hungarians who have become dissatisfied with the opposition. He thinks the losers from his appearance may include the Twin-Tailed Dog party and Momentum, both of whom started out as critics both of the government and of the existing opposition. As a result, he continues, the Democratic Coalition may get rid of its critics within the opposition but will have to face a new force which is even less inclined to cooperate with it.

In Élet és Irodalom, János Széky suggests that Magyar is making both the government and the opposition extremely nervous. The government side, he remarks, splashed out in a single day on a single cluster of Facebook advertisements the equivalent of 80 months of Élet és Irodalom’s advertising revenue, just to discredit Peter Magyar. Equally interesting, he continues, the Democratic Coalition, as the strongest opposition party, also appears infuriated by Magyar and his growing popularity.

In its first page editorial, Magyar Narancs lambasts the prosecution for failing to investigate the remark by former Justice Minister Judit Varga that leading government officials had their names removed from the indictment in the corruption scandal in which Ms Varga’s deputy is one of the chief defendants. That statement was secretly recorded by Magyar and submitted to the prosecutors in March. The editors dismiss the claim of the prosecutor’s office according to which no documents can be removed from their files. Magyar Narancs writes that the prosecutors always eliminate most of the material they receive from the police, either because it appears irrelevant to the investigation, or for other reasons.

In his Demokrata editorial, András Bencsik launches a conspiracy theory: was Peter Magyar’s appearance in politics really as spontaneous as it appears, or might he be a ‘carefully trained agent’ who secretly gathered information for a long time to release it when it hurts the most? Bencsik recalls that US ambassador David Pressman recently said that America finds it difficult to come to terms with the Hungarian government and could in due course respond with actions rather than words. Bencsik asks whether Magyar’s brand-new movement might be part of such an ‘action’ or whether it is happening by mere coincidence.

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