Hungary’s singing Fidesz mayor: György Alpár

The Fidesz party mayor of Drávaszerdahely, a village of just 214 residents, is a very lucky man, and for this, he can give thanks to the Hungarian right’s archnemesis, former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. In 2006, Mr. Gyurcsány signed an agreement to open a natural gas distribution centre in the village, which provides gas to southern regions in both Hungary and in nearby northern Croatia. The project cost over 80 billion forints, but the former prime minister’s broader objective was to reduce energy dependency on Russia.

The distribution centre in Drávaszerdahely opened in 2012, two years after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took power, and his local ally in this southern Hungarian village has governed over a community that suddenly became very affluent. The tiny community’s annual tax revenue jumped from almost nothing to 46 million forints (C$214,000) in 2012. For a point of comparison, the village’s annual budget was just 7 million forints (C$33,000) prior to 2012 and Mayor György Alpár noted that when he was first elected in 2006, Drávaszerdahely had little more than the equivalent of $10,000 in liquid assets.

Since then, times have completely changed. A free bus route transports children to kindergarten and to school. Parents receive cash payments of 40,000 forints for each of their kids who are enrolled in school, children receive free lunches, residents receive free firewood with which to heat before each winter. Even dogs have benefited: the village’s administration provides free vaccines and micro chips.

Meanwhile, the rather colourful Fidesz mayor sings, dances, parties and writes songs. In his most recent music video, in which he appears alongside two attractive women, one of whom is his girlfriend, the mayor shares with his village his most recent song:

The 37 year old Mr. Alpár, known for his many tattoos, his voice and for sometimes enjoying a few too many drinks, specializes in the sort of Gypsy-Hungarian pop music that makes an appearance at almost every Hungarian wedding and party, usually late at night. In his most recent tune, Mr. Alpár sings about a woman with perfumed hair and about drinking copious amounts of pálinka in Drávaszerdahely’s tavern. I should note that the mayor owns the village’s only tavern, and that’s what made him move from his hometown of Pécs to the small settlement.

György Alpár celebrates his 37th birthday. Photo: Facebook.

György Alpár celebrates his 37th birthday. Photo: Facebook.

The mayor’s Facebook page tells a story of a man who likes to hunt, drink, party and sing. The locals seem to generally fancy the mayor’s crass folksiness or – at least- those who are less enamoured are not speaking up. “I know all kinds of songs in foreign languages too. They’re good and they have a nice tune, but I’m clueless as to what they’re singing about,” said Mayor Alpár to Index, explaining why he only sings a very specific pop-folk genre of Hungarian music. One of the locals interviewed in the video hinted, quite diplomatically, that it isn’t good to drink alcohol when one sings. “He shouldn’t drink half a liter of wine before singing, because that’s not going to end well,” said a local resident, offering his own friendly tip to the mayor.

The drinking aside, Fidesz’s man in this little Hungarian village seems to “connect” with most locals, he is rough-and-tumble, but has built an image of being “lovable” in his own special way. He has a bit more time to build that image than most mayors, thanks to a former prime minister’s gift from an earlier era.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *