The opposition unifies behind mayoral candidate in key Budapest election

On Monday we learned that the opposition finally did what it should have done before April’s national election: it is rallying behind a single mayoral candidate in the central Budapest district of Józsefváros, in the hope of reclaiming it from Fidesz in a local election to be held on 8 July. With outgoing Józsefváros mayor Máté Kocsis moving to national politics, as a Member of Parliament for Fidesz, the left-centre and liberal opposition parties are all uniting behind the candidacy of 63 year old Péter Győri.

Péter Győri. Photo: Balázs Mohai / MTI.

Mr. Győri, running as an independent, is a credible candidate locally and this undoubtedly made it easier for opposition parties to unite behind him. As the founder of Menhely Alapítvány (Shelter Foundation), Mr. Győri has been involved in helping the homeless in Budapest since 1990. The Shelter Foundation offers those on the margins day programming, run by professional social workers and it publishes a newspaper, entitled Fedél Nélkül. Homeless men and women are often seen selling copies of this publication in public squares and in metro stations. The Foundation also provides mobile outreach to people living on the streets. Mr. Győri is the author of several research papers on slums in Budapest and on the problems surrounding Hungarian subsidized housing policy. From 1990 to 2002, he chaired the Budapest City Council’s committee on housing and poverty issues and he was directly involved in developing municipal programs that restored and renovated buildings throughout the city.

Suffice it to say that Mr. Győri brings with him decades of experience working with the poor and some of the work that his Foundation has done was truly pioneering and unique in Hungary. We have already seen before, that the opposition stands the best chance of taking back towns and districts from Fidesz when it fields locally credible candidates–people who have put the time in to contributing to the life of their local community.

The Hungarian Socialist Party, Párbeszéd, the Democratic Coalition, Momentum, Politics Can Be Different (LMP), the Liberal Party and Együtt are all supporting Mr. Győri’s candidacy. The candidate himself confirmed as much when speaking with reporters on Monday.

Mr. Győri noted that his candidacy was a symbol that even in a time when Fidesz enjoys a surplus of power, people must work together to restore “a true multiparty system once again.” If Mr. Győri captures Józsefváros from Fidesz on 8 July, his priority will be to put to use vacant apartments, shops and other spaces in the district–real estate that the district owns, but that has sat empty for some time. He also wants to strengthen a program aimed at restoring decrepit apartment buildings. He made a point of noting that his administration would be more careful and accountable with taxpayer funds than the current Kocsis mayoralty.

Józsefváros, also known as the 8th District, may now be in play for the opposition. In the April election, Mr. Kocsis of Fidesz garnered just under 41% of the vote. The left-wing parties together received 46% (of which the main candidate, Attila Ara-Kovács of DK brought in 32%). Mr. Ara-Kovács has national name recognition, but Mr. Győri is a stronger candidate at the grassroots level–and this matters most in a local mayoral election.

But as a word of caution for the opposition: at the national level, Józsefváros and neighbouring Ferencváros together form a single riding. At the local level, however, they are separate districts. While Józsefváros’s demographics would still make it lean left (though this is changing, due to extensive gentrification in the area known as Corvin negyed), it is notoriously difficult to convince locals, including the large Roma population, to cast their ballot on voting day.

Perhaps Mr. Győri’s candidacy will make this more likely.


  1. Avatar Bendeguz79 says:

    Without knowing anything about Mr.Gyori, only what the article mentions, but he seems to be more of a humanitarian, than a politician.

    As of his work on helping the homeless, just why the civic organizations and other humanitarian organizations that hold the money-bag with not backed Mr.Gyori’s efforts over the years? They spent fortunes for gaining political power.

    Now, it seems that all that political opposition is eager to take advantage of Mr.Gyori’s name recognition and his previous humanitarian work.

    So what are the chances that he might just become a stooge of all those politicians that are eager to exploit Mr.Gyori, and just use him to take control of his victory, in case he is elected?

    Now Mr.Gyori plans to spend the hard-working-tax-payers money instead.

    Have learned long ago to look closely of who are behind the people who just want to gain power by any means. The voters should always consider those facts everywhere.

    • It’s OK *NOT* to expess an endless, vacuous, but lecturing opinion on everything–particularly on things you obviously know next to nothing about (i.e.: almost everything that has to do with Hungary).

  2. Avatar Bendeguz79 says:

    NO Lanark, you are evidently dead wrong.

    I only, and always express my opinions on the general situation that goes on in Hungary, mostly what is being presented here on HFP and KMH.

    But always , in hope for the benefit of of the good people of the country, that sure would deserve a better life than what usually is going on there.

    Just how could that be vicious ?

    Sounds more like your views ,interest and goals represent a vicious aim, and not the benefit to a better , happier and safer life for millions of hard-working, tax-paying decent Hungarians.

    In case you had any concern for them, you’d rather be concerned of them and their just welfare, and NOT the greedy interest of selfish bankers and their political cronies.

    • Avatar Don Kichote says:

      „But always , in hope for the benefit of of the good people of the country, …“ good people like you and Peter? Lanark hit the Point.

  3. Avatar Bendeguz79 says:

    So ,you just can not accept that there might be some decent people left in Hungary ?

    Everybody can not possibly be a globalist troll.

  4. Avatar Bendeguz79 says:

    I spent some time finding out about the “Menhely Alapitvany”.
    This turns out to be a governmental agency. Established by the Budapest and Ujpest city governments.
    Mostly from the tax-payers dedicated 1% disclosures.
    There are listed a few private donors like banks from Norway, etc.

    I always have the habit to check out the financial declarations of every organizations that ever attempt to ask donations from me.
    Those that do not spent at least 80% of their funds for the direct purpose, I do not give to.

    This organization has no such data available on its web-site at all.

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