Peter Magyar delivers a speech during an anti-government demonstration in Budapest, April 06, 2024. EPA-EFE/Szilard Koszticsak


Orban’s new challenger gets green light to run at European elections


A former ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Peter Magyar, registered a party late on April 11 to run in the European elections in June, setting out a test for his ability to challenge the nationalist leader.

Magyar swooped into Hungary’s political scene in February when he accused the government of widespread corruption and running a centralised propaganda machine. Orbán aides have rejected his accusations.

In late March, he published a recording of a conversation with Judit Varga, then his wife and Hungary’s justice minister, in which she allegedly detailed an attempt by Orbán aides to meddle in a graft case.

The revelation, which is being investigated by prosecutors, has led to large protests in Hungary. Orbán’s government had already been reeling from a sex abuse scandal that led to the resignation of the president.

Opinion polls show that Magyar would get about 13 per cent of voters while Fidesz’s support was mostly unchanged.

Magyar, who took over an inactive party called Tisza (Tisztelet és Szabadság – Respect and Freedom) is starting a country-wide campaign tour next week, planning to visit six to eight towns a day, he told Reuters.

“There is still a lot of work to do. We are a kind of garage company,” he said.

At a rally last week, he told his audience that he wants to “take Hungary back” and restore democracy. He stood up for the reform of the healthcare and education systems and reiterated that he wants to cooperate with the European Union.

Magyar has said earlier that he will be heading his party’s list for the European elections as its most popular member, but will not become a member of the European Parliament and stay in Hungary to challenge the government.

If his party won any seats in the European elections, their members would join the European People’s Party group, he told ATV in an interview.