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Weeklies on Péter Magyar overtaking the old opposition

May 13th, 2024

According to most recent opinion polls Péter Magyar’s Tisza party has taken the lead from the Democratic Coalition, which has been the strongest opposition party for the past five years. Median polling company reported that over half his followers are former left-liberal voters while 1 out of 7 voted Fidesz in 2022.

In Magyar Hang, Róbert Puzsér ascribes Magyar’s success to his mixture of the Fidesz communication style and anti-government opposition narratives. With a conservative majority among Hungarians, he writes, the incumbent government can only be overcome by a centre-right movement – exactly as happened in Poland last year. A first indispensable step on that road for Magyar would be a convincing result at the European elections on 9 June.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta finds it strange that opinion polls yield unusually diverging figures of popularity for Magyar and his Tisza party. One problem may be, he suspects, that some of the polls are commissioned by political parties. Never mind, he continues, as Peter Magyar has the undeniable merit of having made politics interesting again. Whether he can win or not, Tóta cannot tell; but he is certain that Hungary can only win if its people remain politically active.

In its first page editorial, Magyar Narancs condemns Magyar’s party for running for mayor in four Budapest districts, while three would be sufficient to have an electoral list of candidates for Budapest council members. Tisza and the Twin Tailed Dog party with its five district mayor candidates risk helping Fidesz take over at least four Budapest districts. Thus, the liberal editors doubt if those two parties are as distant from the government side as they claim.

In Mandiner, Tamás Pindroch doesn’t believe Péter Magyar will bring new quality to opposition politics. ’Many of us /on the government side/ have been waiting for the opposition parties to fall, but expected a new opposition that would accept the national minimum of protecting the country’s independence’, he writes. Instead, Pindroch continues, Peter Magyar is ‘a man of the same network that is working against our sovereignty’. However, he tries to reassure his readers, the Right has managed to deal with tougher opponents in the past.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik attributes Magyar’s swift rise to the inclination of the opposition camp to vote against, rather than for something. Their first instinct is to loathe the government. Since the various opposition parties have been equally unable to win elections, masses of their supporters have changed allegiance, putting their hopes on someone they don’t even know. By contrast, he writes, the government side is rooting for something and this is why it has remained fundamentally intact.

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