Parties of the opposition won Sunday’s local elections in several cities and Budapest districts because of a recent scandal around Zsolt Borkai, the mayor of western Hungary’s Győr, Gergely Gulyás, the Prime Minister Office’s chief, said at a conference on Tuesday.
Borkai “won the country an (Olympic) gold in 1988, and now he has won gold medals to candidates of the left-liberal parties in three to five Budapest districts and at least two cities of county status,” Gulyás insisted. He added that the scandal had “clearly benefitted” opposition candidate Gergely Karácsony, who then won Budapest’s mayoral post.
The election shows that democracy is alive and kicking in Hungary and it also shows that the political system has changed, Gulyás said.
Evaluating the ruling Fidesz-KDNP alliance’s result in Sunday’s local elections, Gulyás said the scale of victory was similar to the right wing’s robust showing in the 2006 local elections but less spectacular than its result in the general elections of 2010 and 2014. Still, party preferences have not fundamentally changed, he said, adding the outcome was essentially a repeat of the European elections held in the spring.
He said surprise defeats were caused by the mistaken assumption that far-right and far-left voters would not vote for the joint opposition platform, as well as the reaction of voters to Borkai’s scandal.
The third cause, he said, was that by now two blocs have emerged in Hungarian politics.
The election result, especially in the capital, also means that “from now on the responsibility is shared”. “The opposition has had an easy position; whatever happened, it could blame the ruling parties, but now it is over,” Gulyás said. He added, however, that the government respects the will of voters and was ready to cooperate.
Gulyás spoke highly of the achievements of outgoing Budapest mayor István Tarlós, saying that the past nine years under his tenure were a “Golden Age” for the city.
Lajos Kósa, Fidesz’s deputy leader and campaign manager, said that a change had taken place in the “centre field of power’ due to opposition cooperation, and it was no longer possible to win by 40 percent. Instead, a win with at least 51 percent support would be needed, he added.
Whereas the governing parties had got accustomed to a 6:1 win, now the ratio was 3:2 due to the united opposition.
The election has shown that “those who say that the government has dismantled democracy are mean liars”, Kósa insisted, arguing that the success of the opposition’s political strategy shows that “Hungarian democracy is working”.