Surprise opposition victory in Hungarian by-election

The independent candidate Peter Marki-Zay scored a landslide victory in the mayoral by-election of Hódmezővásárhely. Six weeks before the general election, many believe this vote to be a litmus test for the opposition's electoral potential.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Surprise opposition victory in Hungarian by-election

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Hódmezővásárhely. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Hódmezővásárhely is not just a picturesque city in the south of Hungary. It has also been a stronghold of the ruling Fidesz party since the transition to democracy. The party elite was certain that their candidate would win Sunday's election.

Even in presumably friendly Hódmezővásárhely, Fidesz conducted a dirty election campaign, financially blackmailing prominent figures of the city, encouraging a local priest to campaign for Fidesz, and publicly calling the independent candidate, Marki-Zay a “fool”.

In the run-up to the elections, anonymous flyers that “blacklisted” supporters of Marki-Zay appeared in the mailboxes of many residents.

Despite all of Fidesz's endeavors, however, the people of Hódmezővásárhely made it clear that they looked for change. 

Marki-Zay's victory is telling not only because Fidesz was defeated, but also because all parties -- from the socialists to the far-right -- joined forces to back an independent candidate. If such a phenomenon happens again during the upcoming general elections, Hungary could suddenly shed its black sheep label and re-align with the more liberal heart of the EU.

politics, illiberalism

Details from the story:

  • The mayoral election were held because the previous mayor, Istvan Almasi, passed away.
  • Peter Marki-Zay received 13076 votes (57%). The candidate of Fidesz, Zoltan Hegedus, scored 9468.
  • The turnout was high -- more than 62% of the locals cast their vote.
  • Gergely Karacsony, an opposition PM candidate, said that if Fidesz can loose in Hódmezővásárhely it can be beaten anywhere.
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