Hungary News in brief

Wife of ex-PM edges into lead in race to face Orban

| 2021-10-01 < 1 min read

Wife of ex-PM edges into lead in race to face Orban

Reading Time: < 1 minute

MEP Klara Dobrev emerged as the frontrunner in Hungary’s first ever primary election to select a united-opposition candidate to stand against Prime Minister Viktor Orban, on Wednesday. Dobrev, an MEP for the left-leaning Democratic Coalition party that was founded by her husband, ex-premier Ferenc Gyurcsany, won around 34% of the some 630,000 votes cast over the course of a week, according to early estimates. Voters also selected joint-opposition representatives to stand in Hungary’s 106 constituencies.

Late last year Hungary’s main opposition parties banded together and agreed to hold primaries to select candidates best suited to defeat Orban and his Fidesz party in April 2022. The top three prime ministerial candidates now proceed to a second and final round, from 4-10 October, when Dobrev will compete with Budapest’s left-wing, green mayor Gergely Karacsony (29% according to early estimates) and Peter Marki-Zay, the conservative, ex-Fidesz mayor of Hodmezovasarhely, who somewhat unexpectedly won third place with 21% of the vote, on Wednesday.

If all three hopefuls stand, analysts consider Dobrev as having the best chance of becoming the opposition candidate, and potentially the country’s first ever female prime minister. As the wife of the controversial Gyurcsany, however, she carries political baggage that Orban and Fidesz would be keen to exploit in an election campaign. If Marki-Zay opts to join forces with Karacsony, on the other hand, the Budapest mayor would regain his position as the favourite to win the primary and face Orban next year.