Hungary's Orban and opposition rival rally as election looms

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Hungary's Orban and opposition rival rally as election looms
© Peter Kohalmi People supporting the government of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban march in Budapest

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and newly elected opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay held rallies in Budapest on Saturday six months from an election expected to be the tightest race in 15 years.

Several tens of thousands of Orban supporters marched through the Hungarian capital to hear a speech by the nationalist premier on a national day commemorating Hungary’s failed anti-Soviet uprising in 1956. 

At the parliamentary vote expected to be held next April Orban, 58, will face Marki-Zay, a 49-year-old conservative provincial mayor, who won an opposition primary election last Sunday.

The primary, Hungary’s first ever, was organised by a six-party opposition alliance formed last year in an effort to combat the mainly first-past-the-post election system that favours Orban and his ruling right-wing Fidesz party. 

After three landslide wins since 2010 polls predict that Orban will face his closest contest since he last lost a general election in 2006.

Opinion polls have put the opposition alliance led by Marki-Zay neck-and-neck with Fidesz.

Thousands of opposition supporters were expected to gather at a rally to be addressed by Marki-Zay in Budapest later Saturday.

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