1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Hungary: Small-town mayor to challenge PM Orban in 2022

October 17, 2021

Peter Marki-Zay will represent six opposition parties in their bid to oust Prime Minister Viktor Orban in next year's parliamentary election.

Peter Marki-Zay
Provincial Mayor Peter Marki-Zay has been chosen as the unified opposition challenger to PM Orban at next year's election, after winning a primary vote Image: BERNADETT SZABO/REUTERS

Conservative provincial Mayor Peter Marki-Zay will stand against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at next year's election after winning an opposition primary on Sunday.

Marki-Zay, a 49-year-old political outsider, beat the leftist Democratic Coalition Party's Klara Dobrev.

He got 56.71% of the votes, while Dobrev had 43.29%, the primary election commission announced on Sunday evening. 

'We can only win together'

Speaking to cheering supporters, Marki-Zay said, "We can only win together." 

"No one can break the unity of the opposition… This was a battle, but we have to win the war as well," he said, referring to the 2022 election.

Dobrev vowed to support Marki-Zay as the head of an alliance of six opposition parties that will attempt to oust Orban after more than a decade in power. 

Both are looking to disassemble what they describe as Orban's "illiberal state."

"I wish him a lot of strength ... in our effort to unseat Viktor Orban and then dismantle his regime," Dobrev told reporters on Sunday.

The primary vote was set up by a six-party opposition alliance formed in 2020 to try prevent a mainly first-past-the-post election system that favors Orban and his ruling Fidesz party.

Vice President of the European Parliament and candidate of the Democratic Coalition Party Klara Dobrev
Dobrev, a vice president of the European Parliament since 2019, had been hoping to become Hungary's first woman prime ministerImage: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP

A recent poll by the Media Institute suggests around 47% of Hungarians would favor a change in government.

In the 2017 elections, opposition parties garned 51% of votes, but failed to beat Orban as they were not standing united, political scientist Peter Kreko told DW. This time, he says, it is different.

"The newly elected candidate for prime minister is a conservative politician that the governmental side will have much more difficult time to paint as a leftist, as a liberal and the blade of George Soros. Of course they try, but it will definitely be more difficult." 

Who is Marki-Zay?

Marki-Zay, a 49-year-old observant Catholic and father of seven, has appealed to both liberal and conservative voters.

He held a wide lead in Budapest, while Dobrev, a lawyer and economist who vyed to be the country's first female prime minister, spearheaded the way in rural areas.  

Marki-Zay has degrees in economics, marketing and engineering. He garnered political attention when he won a mayoral contest in 2018 in his southern hometown, Hodmezovasarhely, a Fidesz party stronghold.

Last week, after addressing a large crowd of supporters in the Hungarian capital, he pledged to unite left- and right-wing Hungarians.

The anti-elitist has also campaigned on leading a coalition of "the clean," vowing to stamp out corruption in Hungary.

Marki-Zay said he and Dobrev had agreed ahead of the votes that keeping the opposition united was important for both of them, and promised to collaborate after the run-off.

The two were the final candidates after the first primary round last month that saw more than 600,000 people take part.

Hungary: Opposition unites to oust PM Orban

mvb/fb (AFP, Reuters)