Klara Dobrev’s first political campaign two years ago earned her leftist party a better-than-expected four seats in the European Parliament. Now she is one step closer to her next goal: ousting nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
After the first round of opposition primaries the 49-year-old lawyer is now front-runner to become the candidate to lead a united opposition into an election early next year when she hopes to end Orban’s decade in power.
With her wide experience of state administration, she could become Hungary’s first female prime minister if she wins the second round of opposition primaries, and gets elected in early 2022.
The granddaughter of a high-ranking communist party official, Dobrev was raised in a wealthy Budapest neighbourhood.
She has repeatedly said she does not agree with the political views of her late grandparents as her family background has been a frequent target of political attacks by Orban’s ruling Fidesz party.
Dobrev earned university degrees in economics and law, and then went on to work for the Socialist government. She gave up her job in 2004 when her husband, Ferenc Gyurcsany, became prime minister.
A mother of three children, she took on the ceremonial role of first lady, though she once told an interviewer she doubted her ability to “just smile in the background in beautiful clothes”.
Gyurcsany resigned as prime minister in 2009 and founded a new party, the Democratic Coalition. Dobrev was a co-founder but stayed in the background until 2019 when she became the party’s face during the European Parliament elections.
The party got more than 16% of the vote under Dobrev’s lead, nearly tripling its support from a year earlier when they received 5.38% in the national election. She won a seat in the European Parliament, where she was elected vice president.
During her latest campaign, Dobrev has pledged to reduce poverty, work for the adoption of the euro as soon as possible, and support the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
She says she would dismantle Orban’s political system, including the constitution that she considers illegitimate.
Her husband, however, remains a deeply divisive figure since a tape was leaked in 2006 from a party meeting where he spoke about having lied to voters. Gyurcsany’s image is widely used by Fidesz in attempts to discredit the opposition.
Photo – Klara Dobrev, wife of Ferenc Gyurcsany, the chairman of the oppositional Democratic Coalition (DK) party and former Prime Minister attends the DK’s XI. Congress and the opening of the opposition pre-election campaign in the Budapest Congress Center in Budapest, Hungary. EPA-EFE/Balazs Mohai