Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár (pictured right) has declared war on Hódmezővásárhely’s new mayor Péter Márky-Zay (pictured left). Márky-Zay was elected mayor of Lázár’s hometown in a stunning display of opposition unity in late February, proving that an opposition figure is capable of defeating a ruling party candidate in even the strongest Fidesz bastion.
The by-election in Hódmezővásárhely, a city run by Lázár as mayor up until 2014, was a political upset of such epic proportions that Márky-Zay has become something of a poster child for the broad movement pressuring opposition parties to cooperate on the fielding of candidates in individual electoral districts for the general election on April 8.
At his inauguration, Márky-Zay made it clear that he intends to use the time before April 8 to do what he can to ensure “that clean and respectable Hungarian people can unite for democracy, the rule of law, the market economy, and European Christian values. So….Hungary is again free, democratic, and governed by the rule of law.”
Last week, in an interview with Hungarian online daily 24.hu, Márky-Zay likened what Fidesz is doing to Hungary to Trianon. “What is happening now in our country is a catastrophe unlike anything since 1920,” he said.
What makes Márky-Zay such a credible spokesman for opposition unity is that he is something of a teflon politician. He is a conservative Christian. He isn’t a career politician. He has 7 kids. He is active in his faith community. He ran for office in an area where people know him. He has not been stained by Hungary’s endemic corruption, and he is a politician who earned the endorsement of the entire political spectrum to get elected. In other words, the far-right identity politics Fidesz uses to hammer its left-liberal challengers bounce right off him.
In this context, Márky-Zay comparing Fidesz’s rule of Hungary to Trianon is an incredibly pointed insult that turns the tables on Hungary’s ruling party.
On Monday morning, speaking at campaign press conference to unveil a highway that will go around Hódmezővásárhely, Lázár declared war on Márky-Zay.
“In recent weeks, a declaration of war arrived on the government’s desk from the city of Hódmezővásárhely,” the minister said. “The mayor of Hódmezővásárhely declared war on the government, on Viktor Orbán, and on Fidesz, when he said that if Fidesz wins the upcoming election, that would result in Trianon for the country. This is a serious and grave declaration.
“The government does not want to go to war with any mayor, and it will not. The voters are what is important for the government. The residents of Hódmezővásárhely are important to the government. We have always been good allies [to Hódmezővásárhely. The most] the city can accomplish if it wants to go to war with the government is that it will lose a longtime friend and ally. In my opinion, this would be mistake.”