Right-wing politician backed by the left to finally oust Viktor Orbán in Hungary election

Six different opposition parties from across the political spectrum have backed Péter Márki-Zay to beat Viktor Orbán in Hungary’s upcoming spring election.

Márki-Zay, like the current prime minister whom he seeks to oust, is a churchgoing conservative. Unlike Viktor Orbán, however, he has also stated his commitment to LGBT+ rights – a key point for the parties which have united behind him, spanning in ideology from social democracy to the former far right. 

The upcoming election could mark a key turning point in Hungary’s political history and the potential end of Orbán’s “illiberal democracy”. The current climate led to the country becoming the first EU member state to be classed as “partly free” by the NGO Member House.

Under Orbán’s leadership, Hungary instituted its anti-LGBT+ “propaganda” legislation. The law restricts access for under-18s to content depicting LGBT+ identities. It has been declared as a breach of human rights by the Venice Commission, which advises the Council of Europe on constitutional matters.

The commission stated that such restrictions can deny legitimate expression of sexual and gender identity, both of which are protected characteristics under the European Convention on Human Rights. It has also pointed out that the ambiguity in the wording of the law means that it poses a threat to human rights such as the right to family life and parents’ rights to teach their children according to their own convictions.

Although never a member of Orbán’s party, Fidesz, Màrki-Zay was once a supporter, voting for them. That changed in 2010. 

“I just became more and more upset with their populism, their betrayal of western values… corruption mostly,” he told the Observer. “Orbán has changed, not me.”

Despite Màrki-Zay’s conviction that the anti-LGBT “propaganda” law is undemocratic and his apparent intention to repeal it, his attitude towards the LGBT+ community does not come without its problems. He has also suggested that being gay is a handicap which could be used in politics as a tool.

Nevertheless, analysts have argued that by attacking Orbàn through the right-wing rather than the left, it prevents accusations of a liberal elite and the country’s former leftist ruling parties taking on the role of puppet masters.