Hungary’s democratic opposition scores major election victory

After nine years in the wilderness, Hungary’s opposition parties scored major electoral victories across the country and especially in Budapest in local elections, where a centre-left alliance of parties won the mayoral race, achieved a solid majority on the municipal council and won back nine districts from Fidesz. Moreover, support for Fidesz in the traditionally conservative and affluent Buda districts also fell sharply in this election, as voters turned to the united centre-left opposition in numbers not seen in over a decade.

Let’s take a look at the Budapest mayoral race first, where 44 year old Gergely Karácsony ended the nine year rule of Fidesz Mayor István Tarlós. Mr. Karácsony, supported by Momentum, the Democratic Coalition, the Hungarian Socialist Party, Dialogue for Hungary and the Politics Can Be Different Party, sailed to victory capturing nearly 51% of the vote. Mr. Tarlós of Fidesz fell back to a distant second with just 44%. In Hungary, being a highly centralized unitary state, the Lord Mayor of Budapest is a position bearing national significance. Mr. Karácsony, like his three democratically elected predecessors, Mr. Tarlós and Gábor Demszky, will now serve as a leader on the national stage in Hungary for the next five years.

Gergely Karácsony, Mayor-elect of Budapest.

Mr. Karácsony indicated that his first task will be to ask for a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and said that it is his duty to seek areas of cooperation with the national government. At the same time, as Lord Mayor with the support of the now majority centre-left Budapest municipal council, also known as the Grand Assembly, Mr. Karácsony plans to press forward with the following initiatives as soon as he takes office:

  • Investigate and make public all contracts signed by the city over the last five years, in an attempt to shed light on Fidesz corruption;
  • Take appropriate legal steps whenever such contracts signal the presence of criminal behaviour;
  • Declare a climate emergency in Budapest;
  • Make public transit free for the unemployed;
  • Decrease the price of public transit for children under seven years of age;
  • Prohibit Budapest city firms from taking advantage of the so-called Slave Law passed by Fidesz, which raises overtime hours from 250 to 400, and lets companies delay paying out these hours.

“The significance of this victory is that Budapest will become green and free,” declared Mayor-elect Gergely Karácsony.

On municipal council, Momentum-DK-MSZP-Párbeszéd-LMP won 18 seats, compared to 13 for Fidesz and 2 independents (who support Fidesz). At the district level, the centre-left alliance sailed to victory in every central district, except for the 5th, where Fidesz hung on to power. The left, however, took back from Fidesz the 8th District, as well as the 1st District, 2nd District and 11th District in Buda, and also won Óbuda (the 3rd District). They retained the left-wing strongholds of the 6th, 7th and 13 Districts and won in the 9th too, as well as in most Pest suburbs. Fidesz retains only seven Budapest districts, as the Orbánist colour orange is washed off the capital’s map.

The centre-left also scored important victories in Hungary’s larger cities. The left won back from Fidesz Ajka, Baja, Cegléd, Dunaújváros, Eger, Érd, Miskolc, Pécs, Szombathely and Tatabánya. The left retained, with a large majority, Szeged.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán consoled his supporters by telling them that with the defeat of Mayor István Tarlós, the national government has “gained a great adviser.” Mr. Orbán also noted that Fidesz won most of the countryside, with the exception of many of the larger cities. Fidesz has two roads it may now travel. The first is the beaten path. Drawing from its experience between 1998 and 2002, when the party first rose to power, it may choose to punish Budapest, building on the age-old narrative of the “sinful” and unpatriotic cosmopolitan city. In this case, there is a chance that the authoritarian regime, feeling threatened, takes a more aggressive approach to oppression. The second path is one of some degree of surface-level cooperation, combined with continued attempts to infiltrate the opposition parties with government agents–a tactic already used over the past several years.

Either way, Hungarian politics have been shaken up more than ever over the past decade.

11 Comments

  1. It is more than absurd that on a day when you announced that the opposition won big at local level, at least in the urban setting, that you still use the label “authoritarian”. Problem with this election is that it actually contradicts the propaganda spewed on this site for the past years.

    The problem for Hungary is that the local globalist mayors will work to undermine Hungary economically. The “Climate Emergency” BS will be one example, where Hungary, still a developing country will join Western Europe in dezindustrialization for the greater global good. This, while the rest of the developing world develops unhindered by the agenda of the suicide cult. But of course, the greater objective will be to undermine Hungary’s economy, in order to try to win the next national election. Personally, I don’t think they will succeed, but it is a negative for the well-being of Hungarians and the future of Hungary nevertheless. It is easier to tear down and wreck than it is to build, so they will be somewhat effective!

    • Joe look in the net for authoritarian. You’re a stable genius like Trump, who doesn’t know what he’s talking or writing. Or have you ever thought about what a local globalist should be … possibly one who considers a church as a whole. Only an idiot uses “local globalist” google it … normal people say mayor. If you also want to be a finely oiled machine or even just a blind plug then think of Trump … the one with the umbrella … the one with the toilet paper under his shoes … the one who eats Hambeder.

      • Yes, I agree! Outright ridiculous for people who care more about the globalist agenda to be running in local elections, but they do, because they know they can advance the agenda at local level. And it already shows when one looks at the agenda as laid out by winner!

        1) Sniff around for anything that he can accuse the central government of doing wrong, in other words tear down! Obstruct! Smear!

        2) Take further action meant to destabilize and paralyze the country if there is anything that he can make into an accusation. Again, tear down! Obstruct!

        3) This is an interesting one! Declare a Climate Emergency. In other words, potentially drive new investments away and make it expensive, cumbersome for existing investors to stay. In other words, the global issue is put ahead of the local issue, for no obvious gain for locals. Hungary’s emissions are statistically insignificant globally speaking, so 10 million Hungarians could drown themselves in Danube and take their methane-emitting cows with them and it will make Zero difference for global climate. It would take about three months for the world to make up for the resulting emissions cut. Not to mention that Hungary’s emissions are already down 30% compared with 1990 (Canada up 15%).

        4) Handout

        5) Handout

        6) Potentially drive businesses away.

        So, plenty of plans to obstruct and undermine the economy, plus some handouts that will contribute to fiscal imbalance, thus also undermining economy, since no plan in place to also grow the economy. Nothing on improving innovation, investments, tourism, infrastructure improvements. Stuff meant to directly improve the lives of the local constituents, only unilaterally sacrificing their direct interests for the perceived greater global good. The unilateral part is very significant, because any basic economics manual will tell you that it only serves to harm the locals. In this particular case, it might also make the climate issue worse as investors choose places with a bigger footprint/unit of GDP, instead of Hungary. This is the profile of a globalist running for local positions. This is the poison that is killing the entire Western World. Some Hungarians just opted to embrace the poison!

        • Thank you for your Bullshitting it looks very nice, it’s even better than your first post. I can only say that I live as a foreigner in Hungary while you as exMacaristaner probably live in Nirvana or outside of Macaristan. Did you know that Macaristani vocabulary usually means the opposite of what it actually is? Why don’t you send your extraterrestrial fairy tales to the Brothers Grimm … I would have a headline … The earth was too global for the extraterrestrials.

          • “I can only say that I live as a foreigner in Hungary while you as exMacaristaner probably live in Nirvana or outside of Macaristan.”

            Strong argument! Especially on a site run by someone born in Canada, who lives in Canada. Using your logic, we can just disregard everything published on this site, since it is not published by someone who lives in “Macaristan”, but rather in Canadistan.

  2. I am euphoric and elated it finally happened. Chris, very good summary after a few hours past. You played a pretty big role in this keeping us informed and carrying the torch against this dictatorship among us. Thanks for that. Yes, it is only the first step, but after all our hopelessness, this is a huge one and we know that there are all kinds of dangers ahead, as this maffia government will do everything to fight back even with violence, but is a psychological victory by all means for us. They are totally uncapeble to work together for Hungary, since they are so used to kleptocracy and dis serving the country’s need. They are unable to stop building stadiums and not serve there own oligarchs. The whole legal system, educational system needs to be restored and it will not happen overnight.

  3. This is clearly a positive development for the political forces that support justice, the rule of law and sustainable development in Hungary, but the war is not over. The anti-Orbán forces must demonstrate that they know how to govern according to those three noble principles.

    Its high time – especially after so many years in the boonies that Hungary’s fragmented, lack-luster political opposition to the neo-fascist kleptocracy, pulls a few municipalities out of the gutter. What they must show now is some evidence, that they have learned something from their own appalling, 20 year long incompetence under Gábor Demszky’s neo-liberal, SZDSZ-MSZP alliance. Mr. Karácsony and his team in Budapest must quickly demonstrate, that they can chew gum and walk at the same time. If they prove to be unable, yet again, to provide more than stories to the long neglected and mislead citizens of Hungary about the wisdom of unregulated markets, etc, if they neglect to address this long exploited people’s political-cultural handicaps (where does one even begin….) its socio-economic needs, the deeply embedded corruption living in everybody’s mind (not what you know but who you know that matters), they will simply reinforce the centuries long cynicism of Hungarian citizen’s towards democratic rule. This is Hungary’s real rhapsody – a broken record one dismisses with a wave of the hand. Until this political-culture, this broken record is replaced, nothing will change. The transformation must begin in the villages, towns and cities of Hungary, from the ground up, as they say.

    Bravo to the opposition for this first step. The battle has only just begun.

  4. Stranded in Sopron says:

    “Take appropriate legal steps whenever such contracts signal the presence of criminal behaviour;”

    Not possible while the regime still controls the judicial system and in particular Orban’s puppet Polt remains in situ.

    Not to underplay the democratic fightback yesterday but there is much work still to be done to bring the rotten and corrupt Orbanist edifice down

  5. Pierre Divenyi says:

    Orban can withhold state tax revenue funds from Budapest. He can also use the (so far) national police force to continue committing the atrocities it has especially in the recent past. And it can play whose-it-is games with the city’s transport system. But, knowing him, he will probably figure out many other ways to hurt the new mayor and its circle. Don’t write him off.

  6. Pierre Divenyi says:

    P.S.: What Orban’s response could be in the short and long term we should just ask our faithful commenter Fidesz Joe (see his comment above).

  7. @ Pierre Divenyi

    We’ll have to wait a bit for Bazooka Joe – he’s having to work overtime down at the troll farm to clear up all the wires that have been felled by the storm that swept over the Orbán estate. He is a highly prized troll of the estate’s publicity chief, Kovács Zoltán. He cannot be in so many places at once. He’ll come back soon enough to ask us to click on to one of his URL’s that sends a signal back to his employers.

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