Hungary's opposition regroups in attempt to unseat Orban

Hungary's opposition will hold the country's first ever primary elections this year to pick joint candidates for the 2022 national election in attempt to put PM Viktor Orban's grip on power to an end, news wires reported.

The move was announced on Wednesday with the participation of six parties. Orban’s Fidesz party has scored three successive landslides since 2010 largely due to an election system that favours large parties as the opposition has been fragmented and unable to cooperate until now.

But a patchwork of parties that includes the former far-right Jobbik, which has redefined itself as a centre-right grouping, as well as the Socialists, liberals and greens, joined forces and upset Fidesz in municipal elections in 2019. Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony, who as the candidate of a small green liberal party unseated the Fidesz incumbent, said the opposition cooperation may serve as a blueprint to unseat Orban.

A first primary round on 18-26 September will select a single opposition candidate in each of Hungary's 106 electoral districts. Each district will also pick its preferred candidate for prime minister from a small selection of joint candidates. There will be a runoff in the vote for the prime ministerial candidate on 4-10 October.

Opinion polls put Fidesz and the opposition coalition neck-and-neck and show Orban's party losing ground especially in large cities, foreshadowing the tightest election race since 2006. The election campaign is likely to be centred around the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Hungary has suffered the highest Covid-19 death toll per capita in the world, Worldometer data shows, but it now also boasts one of the EU's fastest vaccination campaigns that has allowed it to reopen the economy quickly.

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