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Breaking the good news, Source: Klara Dobrev on Facebook

Bulgarian-born female politician gains the lead in Hungary’s opposition race

Bulgarian-born female politician gains the lead in Hungary’s opposition race

Having won the primaries’ first round, Klára Dobrev braces for a tough replay with the mayors of Budapest and Hódmezővásárhely to elect Orbán’s challenger

Democratic Coalition’s (DK) Klára Dobrev has emerged as winner of the Hungarian opposition primaries’ first round, ahead of Párbeszéd’s Gergely Karácsony and Hungary for All Movement’s candidate Péter Márki-Zay.

Analysts predict a tough second round later this month, as according to the rules, a run-off involving the top three contenders must follow if one fails to garner more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round.

A pack of three

These are the final results:

  • Klára Dobrev (DK): 214,319 votes (34.8 percent)
  • Gergely Karácsony (Párbeszéd, also supported by LMP, MSZP): 168,396 votes (27.2 percent)
  • Péter Márki-Zay (Hungary for All Movement: 123,944 votes (20.4 percent)
  • Péter Jakab (Jobbik):  86,909 votes (14.2 percent)
  • András Fekete-Győr (Momentum): 20,944 votes (3.5 percent)

Exceeding expectations, almost 634,000 opposition supporters (some 8 percent of the total number of Hungarian voters) cast ballots online or in-person to elect a joint challenger to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for the April 2022 general elections. People also voted for party candidates for parliament from their districts.

Voting was extended for two days and the polls closed late on Thursday night. The primaries were preceded by televised debates between the contenders.

Dobrev, 49, a pro-European lawyer, born in Sofia to a Bulgarian father, won in most of the constituencies, followed by incumbent Budapest mayor, Gergely Karácsony, and his Hódmezővásárhely counterpart, Péter Márki-Zay. The latter was regarded as an outsider and his excellent performance came as a surprise to many. Another surprise was Jobbik’s Péter Jakab’s failure to make the top three.

Risky choice

Dobrev’s lead, however, doesn’t cement her position as Orbán’s challenger, writes Hungary Today, summing up pollsters’ opinions. Both Karácsony and Márki-Zay have already hinted of a potential withdrawal from the race in favour of the other to prevent Dobrev’s triumph.

The big problem is not Dobrev’s democratic credentials, but the fact that she is the wife of controversial former PM (2004-2009) Ferenc Gyurcsány, blamed for Hungary’s economic collapse in 2008. This makes her vulnerable to attacks by the overwhelmingly government-controlled media that could tweak public opinion in favour of Orbán and his conservative ruling Fidesz party. Recent polls foresee neck-to-neck race between Fidesz and the united opposition.

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