The air was filled with excitement and heated political debates during the second round of the Hungarian primaries that took place last October. In Budapest, one could really feel a revolutionary atmosphere after the voters decided that Péter Márki-Zay would be Viktor Orbán’s final challenger in this spring’s elections. This is a historical moment in Hungarian politics, as the six most prominent opposition parties united behind a single prime minister candidate after years of disagreement and discord to overthrow the Fidesz-KDNP coalition that has been in power for the last decade.
The alliance includes the centrist Momentum Movement, the centre-right Jobbik, the centre-left Democratic Coalition (DK), the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), the liberal green party of LMP and the left green Dialogue for Hungary, which started to work on a common programme through lengthy negotiations and compromises since October 2020. Out of the five prime minister candidates, the final round was between Péter Márki-Zay, the independent conservative mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, and Klára Dobrev, the vice president of the European Parliament (candidate of DK). The situation where the voters could choose from two candidates was made possible by the withdrawal of Budapest’s mayor Gergely Karácsony’s candidacy in favour of Márki-Zay, which could significantly affect the outcome of the second round. Firstly, it is generally believed that choosing between two contestants can result in a higher voter turnout. This might be one of the reasons why more people participated in the second round compared to the first one. Secondly, Karácsony’s abdication could alter the composition of the voters, too, as 220 thousand new voters appeared in the second round, while 191 thousand of the first round’s voters did not come.