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Conflicting opinions on pre-electoral TV debates

May 16th, 2024

A left-wing commentator thinks the public TV company cannot be trusted to stage a debate of front-runners ahead of the European elections, while his pro-government colleague accuses Péter Magyar of shying away from an open debate

TV debates with lead candidates for the EP elections in June are planned by various channels, including Partizán (on YouTube), ATV, RTL and the public media conglomerate MTVA. Péter Magyar, whose brand new TISZA (Respect and Freedom) party is estimated to have 26 percent of decided voters behind it, says he wants the MTVA debate first but only under what he calls reasonable conditions (see BudaPost, May  14). Klára Dobrev the top candidate of the Democratic Coalition accused him of being afraid of a debate. He reacted that he sees no point in a debate without the lead Fidesz candidate Tamás Deutsch, who appears only willing to attend a debate on MTVA.

In Népszava, Tamás Balassa suggests that MTVA is fatally biased against the opposition and is therefore not the right platform for such a debate. He suspects that the public media company is only planning a pre-electoral debate because it hopes that the various opposition candidates will indulge in attacking each other. Live debates are important in a democracy, he writes, but advises opposition politicians to ‘avoid such traps’.

In Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Pilhál finds Magyar’s attitude disingenuous. For weeks, he explains, Magyar has demanded such a debate and threatened to camp outside the MTVA headquarters if his request was rejected. Now, after MTVA announced that it is preparing that debate, he suddenly sets various conditions in an obvious attempt to avoid taking part. ‘He has apparently got cold feet’, Pilhál concludes.


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