Back to article list

For several months ago, no one knew who he was - now he challenges Orbán and promises Hungary a better reputation.

DR-Politics in Politics

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 • 1:00 PM UTC - in Politics

For several months ago, there was hardly an Hungarian who had heard of him. Now nearly every third person has voted for him.

Peter Magyar enters the café in Budapest wearing the uniform he has worn since February when he gave his first speech to the Hungarian people.

A crisp white shirt, beige performance trousers, and a pair of clean converse sneakers.

- I'm looking forward to getting something else to wear, he grins.

Since February, he has held over 200 campaign rallies in every corner of the country. Often just from the back of his pick-up-truck.

We meet Peter Magyar at a café in Budapest. He is tired after months of hard campaigning and a lengthy election night to round off. (Photo: © Frederik Harsløf)

- I'm a bit tired. I used to have a pretty normal life. I won't be getting that back, Magyar says.

Today he has more support from Hungarians than he dared to dream of.

- We're very happy with this support. Maybe a little surprised, he admits.

With seven out of Hungary's 21 seats in the EU Parliament, one could imagine that he was about to pack his bags and head to Brussels.

But he won't. He wants to stay in Hungary and complete the project he has started.

- It's clear after this election that our party will be the only one that can challenge Viktor Orbán and win.


'A new Orban story?'


Peter Magyar has taken on Viktor Orbán, Hungary's prime minister, who has been criticized for tightening his grip on power in the country for 14 years.

At the European Parliament elections, Orbán received 44.6 percent of the votes ( and 10 parliamentary seats, and despite the large percentage, it is a setback.

Magyar has not only stolen votes from the rest of the opposition but also from Orbán himself.

- This is something that has never happened before, says Pal Daniel Rényi, whom we meet at a café in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

He is a political reporter for the independent media 444 and has followed the development from the beginning. Just like when Magyar first posted videos accusing Orbán of corruption.

Also read: Unrest within Viktor Orbán? Promising politician has now a party and is running for the European Parliament (

- It all started very turbulent. He was very offensive in his communication. People were in doubt about his credibility. But as time went on, he managed to get people's attention.

Pal Daniel Rényi follows Hungarian politics for the media 444. He tells us that Hungary has not seen such a movement in years. (Photo: © Frederik Harsløf)

It can be challenging to decode precisely what Magyar's political program entails. It is partly because his project is still in its infancy, and he and his team are constantly adjusting while the campaign bus rolls.

But the unclear political messages also give him a broader appeal, says Pal Daniel RĂ©nyi.

- He is in the early stages of creating a political movement. And his strategy is to stay attractive to as many voters as possible.


Changing Hungary's reputation


Viktor Orbán is not a popular figure in Brussels' inner circles. He is known for standing in the way when other EU countries want to send aid to Ukraine.

EU leaders have accused the prime minister several times for being more inclined to accommodate Russia than Ukraine.

Also read: In December, Orbán put his foot down. Now the frustration over Europe's 'problem child' is close to boiling over (

But Magyar is also skeptical of Ukraine. Both regarding its EU membership application, which the EU has put on hold - and regarding supporting the country militarily and economically.

We ask Magyar if he thinks Ukraine should receive money from the EU. Again, we get an answer that balances between the conservative and progressive Hungary.

- Of course, they should. But first, EU should support its own members and citizens. And in Hungary, we need that. It's fine to help other states like Ukraine, but first, we should focus on the competition among EU members - including Hungary.

Warning: This article was translated by a Large Language Model, in case of doubt, you can always visit the original source.