Péter Márki-Zay, newly elected mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, in south-eastern Hungary, and opposition parties hailed the over-62 percent turnout at Sunday’s interim election in the city.
Speaking to a press conference after the election in which he snatched victory from the ruling Fidesz-Christian-Democrat alliance as an independent candidate, Márki-Zay thanked all voters who cast a ballot, regardless of whom they supported.
“The election showed that this is still a democratic country, people expressed their opinion clearly today,” he said.
Cabinet office chief János Lázár of Fidesz, whose constituency is in the city, congratulated Márki-Zay on the win at a separate press conference after the vote. “We will continue to work for Hódmezővásárhely as we did in the past 27 years, and will put the welfare of the city first,” Lázár said and thanked all those who cast their ballots. In a statement evaluating the interim elections over the weekend, Fidesz said that the party won “with a sweeping majority” 14 of the 17 interim local elections held in the past year.
The opposition parties hailed Márki-Zay’s election, whom all opposition parties had supported in the city. Gergely Karácsony, prime minister candidate of the Socialist-Párbeszéd coalition, thanked local parties and politicians for “making the miracle happen instead of waiting for it.” They gave hope to all who want change at the upcoming general election, he said.
Opposition Jobbik leader Gábor Vona, Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány and the Együtt party all welcomed the results as a “turning point” ahead of the April 8 general election.
Márki-Zay won the local election for mayor with 57.49 percent of the votes ahead of Zoltán Hegedűs, of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance, who garnered 41.63 percent, the election site valasztas.hu said on Sunday evening. In the third place came in Gyula Hernádi, an independent, with 0.88 percent. Turnout was 62.45 percent.
As Jobbik statement said, the town of Hódmezővásárhely has just proven that the people cannot be abolished, the government can be ousted and Viktor Orbán can be defeated!
The citizens of Fidesz’ formerly impregnable stronghold have just given a slap in the face to the utterly corrupt and arrogant governing parties, showing their politicians that no matter what dishonest means they employ to hold on to their power, the people have finally had enough of all the theft, subjugation, brainwashing, intimidation and blackmail.
The people who were still distressed this morning have just been given a new hope that if they turn out at the ballots in the sufficient numbers and vote for the best opposition candidate in their constituency, Fidesz will have no chance on 8 April. We win, you gain!
The Socialists and Párbeszéd urged cooperation within the “democratic” opposition in light of the results of Sunday’s election.
The message of the Hódmezővásárhely election is that a good candidate can defeat Fidesz with a high turnout, Karácsony said.
Socialist leader Gyula Molnár said the result was a “serious blow” to Fidesz, adding his concern that Fidesz may start a dirty tricks campaign. He urged an agreement on joint candidates to be reached before March 15, ahead of the April 8 general election.
Asked about possible cooperation with Jobbik party, Karácsony said he ruled out “organised cooperation” with the strongest opposition party, adding that “it is up to the wisdom of voters to decide which candidate has the better chance”. He added, however, that “Jobbik could also support independent candidates supported by Socialists-Parbeszed”.
Concerning the LMP party, Karácsony said that “LMP supporters could soon start demonstrating at LMP’s headquarters” if their party is reluctant to cooperate with other parties. “The same applies to other small parties,” he said.
The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) leader Ferenc Gyurcsány also urged an agreement with green opposition LMP on coordinating their candidates in individual constituencies.
He did not make it clear whether he would rule out cooperation with Jobbik.
Referring to the mayoral election in Hódmezővásárhely, he said the so-called democratic opposition should by now realise there was no room on the opposition side for competing against each other in individual constituencies. With a single candidate in every constituency, the opposition will be the strongest contenders, he added. Gyurcsány said he had instructed executive chair Csaba Molnár to start official talks with LMP.
LMP co-leader Akos Hadhazy, speaking at a press conference on a different subject, confirmed press reports that his party had mandated a delegation to negotiate election cooperation with the Socialists and Jobbik. He said his party was ready to cooperate and even to withdraw candidates “if there is a good and creditable nominee”.
Gabor Fodor, the leader of the Liberal Party, said the successful result for the opposition sent a clear message that broad cooperation was needed on the “democratic” opposition side. Fodor told a news conference that the opposition parties should take the necessary steps towards working together, namely they should agree on a joint candidate for prime minister and a national list. The Liberals have joined the Socialists and Parbeszed alliance and have thereby fulfilled the will of the electorate. The Democratic Coalition, LMP and the Egyutt must answer the question of why they are not doing the same, he said.