Péter Márki-Zay, the united opposition coalition’s candidate for prime minister, and other party leaders held a joint press conference at Nyugati Square in Budapest on January 5. The leaders spoke about their efforts to collect signatures for a two-part referendum on the future of Fudan University in Budapest and extending unemployment benefits.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, who submitted the two questions to the National Election Committee back in the summer, said in the joint briefing that the opposition has now collected 100,000 signatures for the effort, or half the 200,000 needed to hold the referendum.
MEP Klára Dobrev from the Democratic Coalition spoke about how the referendum campaign will bring opposition parties closer together for the upcoming election campaign.
Anna Donáth, another MEP who recently took over as party chair for Momentum, called attention to the housing crisis in the capital, to which the Student City investment project could help solve if the government gives up its plans for a branch campus of China’s Fudan University.
Ágnes Kunhalmi, co-chair of the MSZP, recalled the series of demonstrations that took place three years ago after an amendment to the Labor Law was passed that became commonly known as the “Slave Act.”
Máté Kanász-Nagy, co-chair of green party LMP, who has recently been tasked with the responsibility for communicating social affairs in the opposition, said, “We should not spend it on an elite university in China, but on Student City, which will provide housing for students.”
Jobbik was represented by one of their vice-presidents, Dániel Z. Kárpát, as party President Péter Jakab was not present at the event. Kárpát stressed that Hungary’s national interest should take priority over China’s, and that axing the Student City project does not serve the former.
Péter Márki-Zay spoke last to loud chants of “MZP!” as he began speaking. The prime minister-designate repeated some of his standard campaign talking points, such as his belief that the current government is the “most corrupt in the 1,000-year-old Hungary,” and referred to his campaign slogan several times by saying that “we must keep going up.”
If we don’t break the unity of these six parties and civic associations, we can overthrow the most corrupt government in the last thousand years.
-stated Márki-Zay, who also urged everyone around the country to sign the signature sheets for the referendum if they have not already done so.
Since the primary elections in the fall, the parties in the united coalition and their chosen candidate for prime minister have not made many joint appearances in public. Since the October 23 holiday, they have only appeared together once in Kossuth Square, in mid-December, to present their nominees, where they also launched the referendum effort.
Since then, there have been many reports about internal tensions within the coalition, such as recent negative comments made by Jobbik President Péter Jakab about the coalition’s prime minister-delegate.