Western Legacy Media Gleeful at Prospect of Potential Challenger to Hungary’s Orbán After Budapest Rally

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - APRIL 6: Thousands of people gather for a rally organized by Hungarian
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A political rally in Budapest over the weekend has enjoyed widespread and enthusiastic coverage across Europe and American media, acutely reflecting the desire among Western political elites to see Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán removed from power.

Former Hungarian government insider and erstwhile Viktor Orbán ally Péter Magyar, who was married to one of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s most prominent cabinet ministers until their divorce last year, led a rally reportedly attended by tens of thousands of anti-government protesters on Saturday. Hungary — like all European Union member states — is just months away from elections for the European Parliament, which Magyar (literally ‘The Hungarian’) says he plans to contest with a new party; a move warmly welcomed among Orbán’s critics in the West.

Orbán “faces danger” from Magyar, Politico states, while The Guardian asserts that Magyar is “on a mission to convince Hungarians that Orbán’s government should – and can – be defeated”. The Associated Press gave a glowing writeup to the “rising challenger” and “new political alternative” for Hungary, noting he had suddenly “shot to prominence”.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – APRIL 6: Thousands of people gather for a rally organized by Hungarian opposition figure Peter Magyar, a Hungarian lawyer, former government insider, and ex-husband of former Justice Minister Varga, to protest against the government in downtown Budapest, Hungary on April 06, 2024. (Photo by Arpad Kurucz/Anadolu via Getty Images)

TV Poland — once accused of being a mouthpiece for the conservative government when that was in power, and now allegedly performing the same service for the globalist Eurocrat Donald Tusk now that he leads Poland — wears its enthusiasm on its sleeve. Promoting its interview with Magyar, it notes: “A new political force has emerged on the landscape of Hungarian politics, attracting considerable public support, and posing a significant challenge to the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán”.

Magyar accuses the state of corruption and undue influence, rallies against oligarchs, and came to prominence in February as Orbán allies were forced to resign over a presidential pardons scandal.

The Hungarian government meanwhile accuses Magyar of being a scion of the “dollar left”, political shorthand that asserts the opposition receives “ongoing, substantial funding from a network abroad”. In contrast to the Orbán administration’s policy of keeping Hungary from being entangled in the Ukraine war, governing parties spokesman Tamás Menczer accused Magyar of being pro-war, and further would “would let in the migrants and they would let gender propaganda loose on us”.

While Orbán has been accused of being pro-Russian or pro-Putin for his stance on keeping Ukraine at arm’s length, things are not so simple in Hungary’s domestic political ecosphere. The former left-wing government, for instance, was a major factor in encouraging the import of Russian gas energy into Europe, long understood as a destabilising factor giving Moscow greater political control over European states.

Magyar acknowledges that he has essentially come out of nowhere to suddenly become a darling of the media, and Hungarian government sources question where he has suddenly found the funding and organisational support to hold such large rallies. Menczer compared him to Mayor Péter Márki-Zay, the last liberal-aligned ascendant challenger to Orbán who gained positive Western coverage but ultimately failed to deliver.

Márki-Zay stumbled at the 2022 Hungarian elections after having boasted, strangely, of representing every single political view in Hungary except Orbanism, including some which his liberal backers in the Western European and American media might not otherwise be so quick to celebrate. He said in February 2022: “This rainbow coalition is represented, so to speak, by the liberals, the Communists, the conservatives and the fascists, and we represent this separately in the alliance.”

Menczer asserted this week that Magyar is “exactly like Péter Márki-Zay and exactly the same people support him that supported Péter Márki-Zay”, clearly implying he expected the same outcome.

Whatever is happening, there is certainly a perception of persecution in Hungary and several figures have compared involvement by the Joe Biden administration in Hungarian affairs in the recent past as a fledgling attempt at a ‘colour revolution’ in Hungary, analogous to those tried with varying levels of success in nearby Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. That feeling clearly parallels similar misgivings about alleged interference with Hungarian affairs and elections in the Obama era, which sparked protests by the Orbán camp.

Magyar has used his closeness to the Hungarian establishment — which he is now hoped to destroy — to launch his attacks on Budapest, including releasing a secret recording of his now ex-wife and other Orbán aids allegedly suggesting the removal of a prosecutor in a government corruption case. Magyar had been married to Judit Varga, once a high-flying member of the Orbán government and justice minister, now withdrawn from politics over a damaging scandal involving presidential pardons.

Secret tapes are a pretty well-worn trope in Hungarian and central European politics. Indeed, it was a secret recording of former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány  admitting his socialist government “obviously” routinely lied to the public which was a major contributing factor in Orbán’s victory during the 2010 national elections.

The key European Parliament elections will be taking place across the continent, including Hungary, in two months’ time. Magyar has vowed to start taking “back the homeland” through that vote. Whether that is time enough to build — or AstroTurf, depending on perspective — an Orbán-beating campaign in an election already predicted to tip to the right across Europe, remains to be seen.


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