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Tensions Grow amid Speculation and Bargains ahead of Opposition Primary's 2nd Round

Tensions Grow amid Speculation and Bargains ahead of Opposition Primary's 2nd Round

While there still isn’t a final agreement between centrist prime ministerial candidate Gergely Karácsony and conservative Péter Márki-Zay, the two will definitely team up for the second round of the opposition primary and afterwards.

Right-wing Jobbik’s Péter Jakab, meanwhile, seems to support leftist DK’s Klára Dobrev from now on. Amid speculations and talks about the outcome, pressure and tension are also growing.

Chicken game between Márki-Zay and Karácsony


As we previously reported, somewhat true to the odds about their results, Klára Dobrev and Gergely Karácsony came out better in the first round. Surprisingly, Márki-Zay came in third among the prime ministerial candidates, immediately instigating discussions on either his or Karácsony’s withdrawal in order for only one of them to face former, controversial PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s wife.

While there still isn’t agreement on either’s withdrawal, the two already decided to form a coalition. Both of them have made it clear to run jointly, the only question is who will be the PM candidate and who will step down.

In the wake of recent statements, Márki-Zay’s (who is regarded by many as someone coming from outside the establishment) withdrawal in favor of Karácsony is definitely the more likely outcome. While Karácsony refutes any suggestion that he would step back, Márki-Zay said a postponement of the government change wouldn’t be on him, therefore he would definitely swerve in the their chicken game if it comes to that.

Karácsony even began to hand out roles in a future administration for his rivals. According to the Budapest mayor’s promises, Márki-Zay would be a deputy PM, while Dobrev would lead the foreign ministry.

On the other hand, Márki-Zay insists that being a conservative candidate, he would be the most likely challenger of PM Orbán, while neither Dobrev nor Karácsony could effectively address undecided voters, an ability of his that in his view, he well proved in Hódmezővásárhely (the town of Fidesz strongman János Lázár) where he beat Fidesz twice and delivered a lot of their promises.

Meanwhile, ruling Fidesz’s campaign and response is still apparently only concentrating on Karácsony, Gyurcsány, and the DK leader’s wife, labeling Márki-Zay ‘only’ in a “walk-on” role (status in the former PM’s “theater”).

Does Jakab support Dobrev?


Apart from the three winners, the other two can play important roles as well. Soon after the results were published, centrist liberal Momentum’s president quickly made it clear that his party would support either Márki-Zay or Karácsony, but definitely not Dobrev. While András Fekete-Győr performed badly in the primaries, his party’s candidates had several victories, meaning that Momentum’s electorate might have reserves that can play an important role in the second round.

On the other hand, without saying it out loud, Jobbik’s Jakab apparently claimed support by Dobrev. Although ideologically, there definitively aren’t two parties further from one another in the opposition cooperation, leftist DK and right-wing Jobbik made the most extensive agreements in the single-member constituencies ahead of the primaries.

While it seemed for a while that their cooperation would only last until the end of the first round, apparently this isn’t the case. In a Facebook post published over the weekend, Jakab criticized Karácsony and Márki-Zay for the withdrawal and urged for all three to run separately in the second round (in which case Dobrev would be the favorite), something which is hard not to interpret as he sides with Dobrev and DK in spite of the ideological distance.

Growing tensions


Amid the background talks and speculation about the outcome, tensions are definitely increasing too. As with a withdrawal, since Dobrev’s chances have decreased significantly, DK has gone on the offensive.

DK strongman Csaba Czeglédy, for example, wrote that “Karácsony, who campaigned with the most money and couldn’t even find the way to Szombathely without a driver, came in second place, severely behind, and was badly beaten in the countryside (…) He wants to twist and turn it so that he wins in the end because he thinks that is what he deserves. Don’t take away the chance of a meaningful choice from voters who want a change of government! Do you want to be prime minister of our country without courage and without the ability to fight?,” he criticized.

DK-linked Nyugati Fény has also begun to attack Karácsony and Márki-Zay. “Blatant Dobrev-hatred and a striking cult of personality” was the title of their piece on Márki-Zay’s rally, held on Sunday. And this just adds to several other articles praising Dobrev and criticizing the two rivals.

It has also been decided lately that the second round will be held between October 10-16 (some six days later than originally planned), so that the final list of Fidesz-KDNP’s challengers will be made ready by October 23rd.

Márki-Zay, on the other hand, in a recent interview said he was angry when hearing Jakab’s preference, as in his view Jobbik’s electorate is closer to him, and with Jobbik’s support he could possibly emerge winner even in a battle of three. Stating that his phone calls to Jakab went unanswered multiple times, he went on to suggest a secret agreement between Jakab and DK to help Dobrev win the primaries, which in the end would favor Fidesz, since according to Márki-Zay, Dobrev has the worst chance to win against incumbent PM Viktor Orbán. (Although Péter Jakab in an interview on Monday afternoon insisted that they wouldn’t support any of the finalists officially before the second round. “We will give our full support to whomever you [electors] nominate as our joint candidate for prime minister, and we do not wish to influence your decision,” he wrote.)

Anyhow, Márki-Zay promised a final decision in the next 3-4 days.

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