Hungary’s opposition goes to primary elections in the hopes of ousting Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Hungary’s newly united opposition MPs began voting in the country’s first-ever primary elections on Saturday, with the hopes of removing right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
After years of squabbling and a record of landslide defeats, the once-divisive opposition has united behind a single goal: to remove the long-serving leader from power in next year’s elections.
Their six-party alliance, which was formed last year, consists of a varied group of political groups, including leftist, liberal, and once far-right parties.
They accuse Orban, 58, of endemic corruption and rising authoritarianism since he took power in 2010, accusing him of constantly clashing with Brussels over migration and rule-of-law concerns.
They now expect that the new primary system will help them defeat Fidesz, Hungary’s major political party.
“We learned the hard way that the opposition can only compete with Fidesz if they are also in a single bloc,” Antal Csardi, a candidate for the green LMP party, told AFP.
Despite receiving less than half of the vote, the winner-takes-all system introduced by Orban in 2012 gave Fidesz overwhelming parliamentary “supermajorities” in 2014 and 2018.
The primaries, on the other hand, will allow opposition voters to choose single candidates to run against both Orban and Fidesz competitors in each of Hungary’s 106 electoral districts.
Over 250 candidates are running in the primaries, which will be held from September 18 to 26, and will be voted on both online and in person.
If necessary, a run-off election for Prime Minister will take held between October 4 and 10.
The primary elections, according to Csardi, are “an innovation that was forced on us” by the electoral system and the only way for an anti-Fidesz candidate to prevail.
In a televised debate with Ferenc Gelencser of the centrist Momentum Movement this week, he remarked, “There are ideological differences between all the opposition groups, thus primaries are the best way to decide who becomes the common candidate.”
The approach is also well-liked by opposition voters.
A studio audience member at the discussion, Gyorgy Abelovszky, called them “a brilliant concept” that “should have been implemented for prior elections.”
“I am not a supporter of either of the opposition parties debating tonight, but I will vote for whoever wins the candidacy here,” the 67-year-old told AFP.
At the upcoming general election in April, this mood could mark the end of Orban’s tenure of more than a decade.
For the first time since he arrived, polls indicate an unpredictable legislative election. Brief News from Washington Newsday.