Budapest, September 29 (MTI) – Budapest mayoral candidate Ferenc Falus announced today that he is stepping down as a candidate.
Originally put forward by the opposition E-PM party alliance, Falus was supported by the opposition Socialists and the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) as well. He made the announcement at a press conference where Lajos Bokros, the candidate of the conservative Movement for a Modern Hungary (MoMa), was also present.
Viktor Szigetvari, co-leader of the E-PM alliance and Ferenc Gyurcsany, leader of the DK, asked their voters to support Bokros in the campaign.
Bokros said at the press conference that on October 12 the choice was “between democracy and dictatorship”. He also called Istvan Tarlos, the incumbent mayor of the ruling Fidesz party, for a TV debate.
Press reports over the past few days have suggested that Falus would withdraw from the race and back Bokros, an economist, former finance minister and now the leader of MoMa. Zsolt Greczy, spokesman for DK, told commercial ATV today morning that the party would decide at a meeting later in the day whether to back Bokros as a candidate. He said DK agreed with Bokros’s main goals, such as democracy, a market economy and expanding freedoms.
The opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party, which is a member of the E-PM alliance, told MTI after Falus’s announcement that it would not support Bokros.
“We respect Lajos Bokros, but we cannot expect the leader of the centre-right MoMa party to represent green and leftist values to the fullest,” PM said in a statement, adding that the party would seek to represent those values via its district mayor and mayoral candidates elsewhere. “Budapest voters should go to the polls on October 12 and vote on E-PM’s candidates,” the statement added.
Agnes Kunhalmi, the head of the Socialist Party‘s Budapest chapter, told MTI before Falus’s announcement that it is in the interest of “forces seeking a change” that Tarlos should have a single challenger. The Socialists would discuss if they would support Bokros as the new candidate, and on what conditions, she said.
Gergely Barandy, the head of the Socialists’ ethics committee, said that his party should not support Bokros. “If the Socialists want to stay faithful to their principles, they cannot support a politician that identifies with the right”, he said.
Andras Schiffer, co-leader of the green LMP, called it “ridiculous” that parties of the left should support Bokros, who “spent five years in an Euro-sceptic and conservative group of the European Parliament”.