Journalist and television personality Olga Kálmán has announced her bid to become Budapest mayor in the upcoming local election as an independent candidate with support from leftist Democratic Coalition (DK).
Kálmán and DK MEP-elect Klára Dobrev announced Kálmán’s candidacy at a press conference on Thursday. Dobrev said they had already notified Socialist-Párbeszéd candidate Gergely Karácsony, to whom DK had earlier pledged support.
Answering a question, Dobrev said that DK’s agreement with Karácsony had ensured DK’s support for the first round of the pre-election of opposition candidates. All parties would want “a really exciting political debate,” she said, adding that the decision would not affect DK’s agreements with other opposition parties at district level.
She also confirmed that DK would back the winner of the second round of the pre-election, in the autumn elections.
Dobrev said that the candidate had shown herself to be an “ardent and uncompromising opponent of (PM) Viktor Orbán’s regime” as well as of the incumbent mayor, István Tarlós, who “unconditionally serves the prime minister in every way”. Kálmán will “unite rather than divide” Budapest residents that want change. Kálmán is “not a political party member nor has she ever been,” Dobrev added.
Should she be elected mayor, Kálmán would “make the atmosphere in Budapest freer” and fight against “shady deals”, Dobrev said.
Kálmán said that the public wants new players in Hungarian political life, adding that she and Dobrev would both be glad to see more women in the arena. She said she seeks a broad public support and, if she were to win the pre-election, would rely on support from the voters of the Socialist, Momentum, and ruling Fidesz parties.
“Restoring Budapest to its residents is a priority,” Kálmán said.
In response, Karácsony said a larger number of opposition candidates running in the pre-election rounds would give greater legitimacy to whomever is chosen to challenge Tarlás in the autumn ballot.
In a video message posted on Facebook, Karácsony said he was glad to receive the news of Kálmán’s candidacy. He added, however, that until now he had been backed by DK.
“C’est la vie, this is how politics is, apparently,” he said.
Karácsony said he not only strove to win the pre-election and the autumn ballot but to tackle the most acute problems burdening Budapest residents, such as air pollution, “skyrocketing” property prices and poverty affecting an increasing number of people. He pledged to run on a green, left-wing programme.