Tens of thousands turn out to back challenger to Hungary’s Orban

A rising challenger to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban mobilised tens of thousands of supporters in Hungary’s capital on Saturday, outlining a plan to unite the country and bring an end to the populist leader’s 14-year hold on power.

At the centre of the demonstration, the latest in a recent series of protests against Mr Orban’s right-wing nationalist government, was political newcomer Peter Magyar, a former insider within Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party who has shot to prominence in recent weeks through his allegations of entrenched corruption and cronyism among the country’s leaders.

Mr Magyar addressed a crowd that filled the sprawling square near the parliament building in Budapest, announcing his creation of a new political community aimed at uniting both conservative and liberal Hungarians disillusioned by Mr Orban’s governance.

“Step by step, brick by brick, we are taking back our homeland and building a new country, a sovereign, modern, European Hungary,” Mr Magyar said, adding that the protest was “the biggest political demonstration in years”.

Mr Magyar, 43, was once a member of Mr Orban’s political circle and is the ex-husband of former justice minister and Orban ally Judit Varga.

But he broke ranks in February in the wake of a political scandal that led to the resignation of his ex-wife and the president, and has amassed a large following with frequent media appearances where he portrays Hungary’s political life as having been taken over by a privileged group of oligarchs and anti-democratic elites.

He has argued that Mr Orban’s government operates as a “mafia”, and advocated for a moral, political and economic transformation of the country that would rein in corruption and create a more pluralistic political system.

“More than 20 years have passed as our elected leaders have incited the Hungarian people against each other. Whether the fate of our country went well or we were close to bankruptcy, we were pitted against each other instead of allowing us to band together,” Mr Magyar said.

“We will put an end to this now.”

Hungary’s government has dismissed Mr Magyar as an opportunist seeking to forge a new career after his divorce from Ms Varga and his loss of positions in several state companies.

But his rise has compounded political headaches for Mr Orban that have included the resignation of members of his government and a painful economic crisis.

Last month, Mr Magyar released an audio recording of a conversation between him and his ex-wife that he said proved that top officials had conspired to manipulate court records in order to cover up their involvement in a corruption case.

He has called on Mr Orban’s government to resign and for a restoration of fair elections.

The EU has withheld billions in funding to Budapest over alleged democratic backsliding, misuse of EU funds and failure to guarantee minority rights.

Mr Magyar has said he will found a new party which will run in EU and municipal elections this summer.

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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