BUDAPEST, Hungary — A candidate supported by several opposition parties in Hungary was elected mayor Sunday of a southern city long dominated by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party.
Analysts say Peter Marki-Zay’s surprise victory in Hodmezovasarhely could mark a new phase in the campaign leading up to the country’s April 8 parliamentary election. They say it shows a united opposition could have a chance against Orban’s Fidesz despite the party’s sizable lead in opinion polls.
“From now on, the opposition can believe — whether it’s true or not — that it’s not playing in the old game where it has no chance to win,” analyst Gabor Torok wrote on his website. “Instead, a new match is beginning, where if it takes to the field with smart tactics, its situation isn’t hopeless.”
Marki-Zay, who received 57.5 percent of the votes, compared to 41.6 for his rival, Fidesz candidate Zoltan Hegedus, said his win showed that “there is an enormous demand for corruption, lies and intimidation to cease in the country.”
“This is the power of love, not the love of power,” said Marki-Zay, a right-wing, independent candidate who ran with the support of most of the opposition. “Hodmezovasarhely has made history.”
His victory was surprising in part because the city is also the hometown of Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, who was mayor there for over a decade until 2012.