What will come of the mass protests in Budapest?

Tens of thousands of people protested against Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary on Saturday. They came out in response to a call by opposition politician Péter Magyar, who wants to challenge Orbán’s grip on power with a new party. Commentators debate the new movement’s chances of success.

Magyar Hang (HU) /

A fresh force to combat the boring elite

Péter Magyar is challenging the entire political elite, Magyar Hang observes:

“If it wasn’t clear beforehand, the demonstration has dispelled all doubts: Péter Magyar is throwing down the gauntlet to the state party and the opposition at the same time. ... As if domestic politics were back on the agenda in Hungary and that there really was something at stake in the upcoming election. A fresh force is stirring up the still, stagnant waters with modern slogans and a dynamic presence, while a hopelessly anachronistic, boring political elite fears for its position.”

Szabolcs Szerető
Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Magyar has a lot of convincing to do

Despite tens of thousands of demonstrators there is still a long way to go before the Orbán system falls, according to the Salzburger Nachrichten:

“They are not yet a majority, but Magyar is nonetheless optimistic that the European elections will be ‘the first nail in the coffin’ for the Orbán system. It would take more than one nail to kill him politically. Magyar knows that. He knows the system, and perhaps that is why those Hungarians who are critical of the government trust him more than the opposition that has existed so far to bring it down. However, the new star of the opposition must win the trust of a larger number of people, and beyond the central region of Budapest. Fidesz will use its tools to prevent this: the controlled media apparatus, with which it will erect a propaganda wall between Magyar and the electorate.”

Stephanie Pack-Homolka
Večer (SI) /

More than just a star that comes and goes?

Time will tell whether Péter Magyar is able to establish himself in the long term, Večer puts in:

“The rallies and demonstrations for the ‘new Hungary’ have shown that many see Péter Magyar as a new political face who could usher in the necessary changes to a system dominated by corruption and clientelism, the erosion of the rule of law and attacks on the rights of others. ... Many remain cautious, however, as the country has already seen such prophets, as some are calling him, come and go. ... The next few weeks will show whether Péter Magyar can make a dent in the carefully cultivated system. Whether he can maintain the current level of support or whether he is just another shooting star that quickly passes by on the Hungarian political scene.”

Urška Mlinarič
Népszava (HU) /

An exciting match ahead

After years of dominance, Prime Minister Orbán once again has a serious opponent in the EU election campaign, says Népszava:

“The next two months will show whether Viktor Orbán can still play football when the other team is on the pitch (and when the other team can see the ball and doesn’t prefer to kick its own players). Because so far Orbán has mainly scored when there was no goalkeeper, and he seemed to be preparing for the same type of game again. This time there could be a different style of play, at least temporarily.”

Miklós Hargitai