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Weeklies on the electoral campaign

May 27th, 2024

Left-wing and liberal commentators lambast the campaigning style of the government, while pro-government weeklies see the electoral clash as a confrontation between ‘the forces of peace and sovereignty’ on the one hand, and ‘war and globalism’ on the other.

In his Élet és Irodalom editorial, István Váncsa depicts Prime Minister Orbán as someone paradoxically campaigning behind closed doors, because for him as a political leader the end is near. He compares Hungary’s leader to the passengers of the Titanic who refused to believe until the very end that their ship was sinking. Váncsa concedes that Mr Orbán may win the forthcoming elections nevertheless, because his constituency believes that his rivals are no better and he is at least someone they have grown accustomed to.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta takes it for granted that Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony will be re-elected in June. The capital is the most educated and open part of the country, he writes, adding that this is why Fidesz cannot win the municipal elections there. He accuses the government of diverting hundreds of billions of forints from Budapest for political reasons and invites the population of the capital to punish the country’s leaders by re-electing their mayor.

By contrast, in an interview in Mandiner, the Fidesz candidate for Budapest mayor Alexandra Szentkirályi describes the municipal elections and the elections for the European Parliament as both centred around the same issues. The clash in both cases, she suggests, pits globalists against sovereigntists. She mentions that during his last electoral campaign (before the opposition primary for lead candidate at the parliamentary election two years ago), Gergely Karácsony’s team received ‘suspicious’ help from abroad in the form of bundles of dollars and euros. (See BudaPost, June 29, 2023.) Ms Szentkirályi also says she would not attend a pre-electoral debate with Karácsony, as she considers him to be DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány’s valet. She would only be ready to face Mr Gyurcsány himself in such a debate, she adds.

Magyar Hang’s Szabolcs Szerető decries the Prime Minister’s attempt to describe all his opponents as warmongers, when none of them are. Fidesz is digging a divide where in reality there is a consensus, he writes. What is at stake in the June elections, he concludes, is not war or peace but something almost as important – every single vote against Fidesz, Szerető suggests, will be a sign of sobriety and maturity, besides strengthening the immune system of Hungarian society.

Demokrata’s András Bencsik, on the other hand, asserts that a choice between peace and war, life and death has never been as ruthless as in the upcoming European Parliamentary election. We should not delude ourselves, he writes, the war in Ukraine is escalating and has reached neighbouring Slovakia with the attempted murder of Prime Minister Fico. The ‘peace march’ planned by pro-government supporters on June 1, he suggests, will be indispensable to prevent the ‘war psychosis’ crossing into Hungarian territory.

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