Tens of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated in Budapest against the government of right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and called for new elections. The former political insider Peter Magyar, who had recently turned into an Orban critic, called for one of the largest protest rallies in recent decades. “The government should put power back in the hands of the people and give them the opportunity to choose,” said Magyar in a nearly hour-long speech.

Magyar was married to the former Justice Minister Judit Varga and had himself held management positions in state and state-related institutions and companies. In February he surprisingly broke with his previous political environment. According to his account, the immediate cause was the affair surrounding the pardon of a pedophile aide, which led to the resignation of President Katalin Novak and the end of his ex-wife’s political career.

Since his public appearance as a critic of the Orban government, Magyar has accused those around the head of government of corruption and abuse of power. To support his allegations, last month he published a recording of a conversation he had with Varga at the beginning of the previous year, when she was justice minister and he was still married to her. In it, the politician describes how followers of Orban’s powerful chancery minister Antal Rogan are said to have intervened in public prosecutor’s investigations and deleted passages from the files that incriminate the minister. Varga did not deny the authenticity of the conversation, but claimed that he was manipulated and coerced by Magyar into making statements that were incorrect.

Will Magyar run in the European elections?

At the rally, Magyar shouted into the crowd: “We reclaim our land and our national symbols!” He encouraged people to join his new movement “Up, Up, Hungary!” to engage. Magyar cannot run with his own party in the European elections on June 9th because he cannot meet the deadlines by founding a party. But he is negotiating with existing parties to make it possible to run. The result of the European elections in Hungary will be “the first nail in the coffin” for the Orban system, Magyar added.