In Hungary’s first-ever primaries, the opposition has identified three candidates, one of whom will challenge Prime Minister Viktor Orban in next year’s elections.
The first round of primaries, which ended late Tuesday night, gave Hungarians the chance to choose between five opposition candidates who will challenge Orban in national elections in April.
The three candidates with the most votes will compete in a second round, which is due to start next week.
Klara Dobrev, the Liberal Democratic Coalition candidate and vice-president of the European Parliament, won the most votes, 34%.
She is followed by the center-left mayor of Budapest, Gergely Koracsony, supported by the Hungarian Socialist Party and two smaller green parties, with 27%.
In third place was Peter Marki-Zaj, an independent conservative and mayor of a small town in southern Hungary, with 20%.
Some 634,000 Hungarians participated in the week-long vote, about 8% of Hungary’s eligible population.
Observers noted that the turnout was similar to the Democratic primary in the US in 2020.
The five candidates held two televised debates before the primaries, a new phenomenon in Hungary, where Orban has refused to debate his opponents since 2006.
The country’s six opposition parties decided to forgo ideological differences and align their candidates in the election to defeat Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, which has a two-thirds majority in parliament.