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Gergely Karácsony (left) stepped back and supported Márki-Zay , Source: Péter Márki-Zay on Facebook

Péter Márki-Zay wins second round of Hungary’s opposition primary

Péter Márki-Zay wins second round of Hungary’s opposition primary

The independent mayor of Hódmezővásárhely beat Klára Dobrev to become the joint opposition’s candidate for Prime Minister in the April 2022 elections

The independent mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, Péter Márki-Zay, supported by Párbeszéd, LMP, MSZP and Momentum, won the second round of the opposition primary against Democratic Coalition’s Klára Dobrev with 56.7 percent of the vote. The leader of Hungary for All Movement, who was considered a complete outsider before the first round, garnered 371,560 of the 662,000 votes cast in the second round. So, according to the all-party agreement, Márki-Zay will challenge Victor Orbán in the April 2022 parliamentary elections as the joint candidate of the opposition. 

Winning big in Budapest with Mayor’s support

There was a record turnout, with opposition supporters being able to vote online or in-person wherever they wanted, as the country was treated as one constituency. Generally, Bulgarian-born Dobrev fared better in the countryside, while Márki-Zay won big in Budapest.

His victory was given a rocket boost by Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony’s decision to withdraw from the race and support Márki-Zay in the second round. Both have agreed that the risk of front-runner Klara Dobrev winning the run-off in a field of three contenders was unacceptably high, leaving her vulnerable to a smearing campaign by Fidesz as the wife of disgraced former Socialist PM Ferenc Gyurcsány.   

Márki-Zay - an outsider turned charismatic leader

It is now clear that Márki-Zay’s marketing experience and the political capital he has accumulated in local politics has played a key role in his pre-election success, writes Telex which ran a live news feed of the vote count. The independent media outlet also quotes his communication skills, his constant Facebook and YouTube presence, and his utterance that pushes boundaries.

Márki-Zay was born in a conservative, religious family in the South-East Hungarian city of Hódmezővásárhely. His mother was a chemist; his father - a teacher of mathematics and physics, and he has two brothers.

He completed his high school studies at the Gábor Bethlen Grammar School, graduating in 1990. In 1993 he graduated from the College of Commerce and Hospitality, then in 1996 from the Corvinus University of Budapest as an economist, in 2001 from the Budapest College of Technology as an electrical engineer, in 2002 as a professor of history at the University of Szeged, and in 2006 from the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. He speaks English, German and French.

From 1996 to 2001, Márki-Zay worked at Démás, from 2001 to 2004 at Kontavill-Legrand in commercial, customer service and marketing management positions. In 2004, he moved to Canada with his wife and their five children at the time (they have 7 now). 

Working at odd jobs to support his family, including as a door-to-door salesman, he got a job as a marketer in the Canadian division of the auto parts dealer CARQUEST. After two and a half years, he moved to the United States, where he continued to work for this company.

After a five-year stay abroad, Márki-Zay returned to Hódmezővásárhely in 2009 with his entire family. He was employed by EDF Démás in Szeged, serving first as a strategic planner, then as a customer service manager.

From April 2016 to December 2017, he was the Head of Marketing and Domestic Logistics at Legrand Hungary Zrt. Between 2009 and 2014, he taught non-profit and business marketing subjects at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Szeged.

He was an active member of the Catholic communities in Baja, Szentes, Toronto and Hódmezővásárhely, member of the church council in Hódmezővásárhely, as well as board member and president of his children's school, the Gábor Bethlen Reformed Grammar School. At the request of the city of New Castle, Indiana in the United States, he was a member of the Regional Workforce Development Oversight Board from 2008 until his return home. 

Hometown political triumph

In 2018, as an independent, with the support of all opposition parties, he ran in the interim mayoral election in Hódmezővásárhely, which he won with 57.49 percent of the vote. Márki-Zay is the founding president of the Hungary for All Movement. In the 2019 local elections, he won a two-thirds majority in the Hódmezővásárhely General Assembly with his candidates.

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