Gábor Vona, leader of extreme-right party Jobbik, has challenged Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) leader Gyula Molnár to a public debate, reports news site Index.hu.
The debate would take place next Friday, two days before the October 2nd referendum on EU migrant resettlement quotas, for which the Fidesz-led government has spent months and up to HUF 10 billion (USD 37 million) campaigning. The location, exact time and moderator for such a debate have not yet been discussed.
“In civilized countries, party leaders usually argue their positions before such a significant event,” Vona said. “Viktor Orbán has been fleeing from debate since 2006. That’s why it would be good after 10 years if he would undertake his opinion again in this kind of forum.”
Indeed, the last time Orbán took part in a public debate was on April 5, 2006, when he debated then-prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány before parliamentary elections. Opinion was divided on the result, but most analysts believed that Gyurcsány had defeated Orbán.
Not a party issue
“The Prime Minister continues to consider the October 2 referendum a national issue and not a party issue,” Orbán’s press secretary, Bertalan Havasi, said. “That’s why he won’t participate in a party debate. He expects that the appropriate, thoughtful political forces will encourage the people to participate in the referendum.”
Molnár, however, accepted Vona’s call for a debate, saying: “A debate always makes sense, especially in the country’s current state.”
Molnár wrote on his Facebook page that “politics doesn’t come from paid advertisements but will come from the answers to hard questions. Since the Bratislava EU summit it is clear: there won’t be a union refugee quota. Let’s talk about education, health care, poverty and about how this country will look in the 21st century.”
He hopes Orbán considers these issues that parties can argue about, and he expects to see him at the debate.