Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on Friday announced that he is withdrawing from the opposition’s prime ministerial primary election and will back Péter Márki-Zay, leader of the Everyone’s Hungary Movement (MMM), in the second round of the nomination contest.
At a news conference in front of Parliament, Karácsony, who ran as the joint candidate of his Párbeszéd party, the Socialists and green LMP, asked his supporters to vote for Márki-Zay in the second round of the primary. Karácsony finished runner-up in the first round behind the Democratic Coalition’s Klára Dobrev and ahead of third-placed Márki-Zay.
Despite garnering 170,000 votes in the first round, Karácsony said he was now calling for support of a “centre-right politician with whom I have disputes on issues such as taxation”. He praised Márki-Zay as a “fair and honest man who is ready to serve, and who loves his country more than he loves power”. “If I hadn’t taken this step, [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán would stay and our political differences would not matter,” he said. “Those who do not make sacrifices at times like these are not patriots,” he said.
Márki-Zay said he would join the Budapest mayor’s 99 Movement “as a show of respect” for Karácsony, who “had shown that he puts the country above all else”. Márki-Zay, who is serving as mayor of the southern city of Hódmezővásárhely, said Dobrev’s support was also needed for a change of government at next spring’s election. Should Dobrev win the nomination, however, she couldn’t garner “the three million votes needed to topple Orbán”, he said. “Unfortunately, I am your only hope today,” Márki-Zay summed up his message to voters. Márki-Zay expressed hope that „Orbán would not mobilise masses for supporting Dobrev” in the primary. „Those who cast their vote for Dobrev will actually vote for Orbán,” he said.