Orban challenger forms Hungarian political party

Former Hungarian prime minister Gordon Bajnai, widely viewed as the leading challenger to the current premier Viktor Orban in elections next year, said Friday he was forming a new political party.

"Hungary is divided and needs root-and-branch change," Bajnai told a press conference to announce the new "Together 2014 Voter Alliance Party."

It groups Bajnai's think-tank Patriotism and Progress, two civil groups Szolidaritas and Milla, and a group of former environmental deputies who have left their party.

Bajnai has negotiated with various opposition parties since November in a bid to unify the opposition ahead of next year's general elections.

Briefly prime minister between 2009 and 2010, he was succeeded by Orban after the conservative Fidesz party won a landslide two-thirds majority at 2010 elections.

"The promise of change is what brought (Fidesz) the two-thirds majority, and it is what will bring them down as well," Bajnai said Friday.

With Hungary in recession and Orban under fire at home and abroad for his often controversial policies, Fidesz has lost ground in opinion polls but remains the most popular party.

In a poll by the Median company in late February, Fidesz came top with 41 percent, ahead of radical nationalist party Jobbik with 19 percent, the Socialists at 17 percent and Bajnai at 15 percent.