July 23. 2024. 1:31

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Orbán’s opponent stays as MEP to lead Hungarian opposition from Brussels


After initially pledging to give up his seat in the European Parliament, newly elected MEP Peter Magyar announced on Facebook late Tuesday (June 18th) that he would stay in Brussels to lead the opposition against Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Magyar, a former member of Fidesz, left the party in 2024 after criticising a number of government-linked scandals and the massive corruption in politics before founding the Tisza Party. He is the ex-husband of former justice minister Judith Varga, who he said told him Hungary is a “mafia state.”

On Monday morning, Magyar put the decision of whether he should take his MEP seat or return to Budapest up for a public vote on the party’s website, with 75 % voting for him to stay an MEP.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Hungarian MEP suggested he would abandon his position to return to Budapest and “Take back step by step, day by day, our country from Orbán.”

But by Tuesday evening, in a live stream from Brussels Airport, he announced his intention to retain his seat in the European Parliament, adding, “This will open up opportunities for the Tisza Party, we can build up an international network (…) which is invaluable in a parliamentary campaign and a future government.”

He added that he plans to donate half his monthly salary of €4,000 to charity.

Magyar’s decision comes as his Respect and Freedom Party’ Tisza’ won 29.6% of the vote and seven of Hungary’s 21 seats in the European Parliament. His delegation came second to Orbán’s Fidesz, which had the worst-ever result in an EU election, winning 44 % of the vote and 10 seats.

Magyar joined the centre-right EPP on Tuesday (June 18th) as one of its founding members, and Fidesz’s domestic coalition partner, the Christian People’s Party (KDNP), announced its departure.

With KDNP out, the last formal ties between the EPP and Orbán’s Fidesz party have been cut.

Come July, Hungary is set to take over the EU Council’s six-month rotating presidency. Orbán’s government will preside over much of the legislative agenda and compromises between EU countries.

Read more with Euractiv

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