Budapest Republic: Capital of Hungary is a 'Republic Ruled by Budapesters', Says Mayor

  • 18 Mar 2024 5:02 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Budapest Republic: Capital of Hungary is a 'Republic Ruled by Budapesters', Says Mayor
Budapest is a republic ruled by Budapest citizens, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsoy said on Friday, marking the anniversary of the 1848-49 revolution and freedom fight.

At the event held together with NGOs and student organisations at Elizabeth Bridge in downtown Budapest, Karácsony said Budapest “is giving refuge to the concept of republic”.

The phrase Republic Budapest did not mean the city was turning its back on the rest of the country, he said.

Speaking about the upcoming local elections in June, Karácsony said many Hungarians were unhappy with the government, “but many were unhappy with the opposition, too”.

Local elections were about local communities, not parties, he added. “Budapest citizens will have an easy choice, because all the government has for them is a declaration of war,” he said.

“Budapest is a host to the values the government built its politics on rejecting.” He called on all Budapest citizens to vote on June 9, and pledged to continue a “positive” politics focusing on health-care: “healthy streets, healthy housing and healthy air”.

He said the country was run as a “company limited rather than a republic”. The republic is “still present in NGOs, civil rights movements that stand up for important issues, and local authorities wanting to serve and not rule”, the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Karácsony said the government had abandoned “people in hopeless situation, such as teachers, students, the poor and the homeless”. “The regime has busted itself and is now teetering on the edge of ruin,” he said. At the same time, he warned that “Hungary is not yet Russia but is getting closer every minute”.

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, sent her greetings in a video message and said “democratic Hungary” had allies in the more than 10 million Russians who wanted to live in a democratic and free country.

 “We are behind you in your fight for your country. Be brave,” she said. Representatives of student organisations Adom, Fridays for Future and United Student Front also spoke at the event. Several opposition politicians were in the crowd.

Opposition Parties Mark Anniversary of 1848 Revolution

“In a shared homeland the laws apply to everybody, while burdens and responsibilities are also shared; it is that common homeland that the incumbent regime has stripped us of,” Klára Dobrev, MEP of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), said in her speech marking the March 15 national holiday and broadcast online on Friday.

“The leaflets that upturned Hungary 176 years ago carried the words ‘equality, freedom, brotherhood’ and showed the world what the Hungarian nation wanted … and we cannot be a nation with a homeland unless the same rules apply to everybody and nobody is above the law,” Dobrev said.

Ágnes Kunhalmi, co-leader of the Socialist Party, spoke at a commemoration held at the monument of revolutionary poet Sándor Petőfi in central Budapest. In her speech, she said “rebuilding the faith in democracy and the rule of law” was of paramount importance.

“Today’s fight must be fought against an authoritarian regime dividing the country from within,” she said.

“Living in a civil democracy is not enough; freedom, equal rights, as well as welfare and employee rights and a radical reduction of the gaps in society are also needed,” she said.

Erzsébet Schmuck, co-leader of the LMP party, said in a video message that the heroes of the revolution and war of independence should be in the focus of commemorations.

“There are some that think this is the day to oust the ruling elite,” she said, and called for a proper way to pay tribute to “those that fought for Hungary’s independence, those that sparked the wave of revolutions in Europe”.

Márton Gyöngyösi, the head of conservative Jobbik, said at his party’s commemoration that “changes today could be achieved through peaceful means, by going to vote”.

“Hungarians of today will have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are a European, freedom-loving people at the polls on June 9,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ruling Parties Nominate Szentkirályi as Budapest Mayoral Candidate

The ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance has named Alexandra Szentkirályi, a government spokesperson, as their candidate for Budapest mayor in the upcoming municipal election.

Zsolt Láng, the head of Fidesz’s Budapest chapter, accused the incumbent leadership of having driven the city to bankruptcy and called “for change”.

Under Szentkirályi’s leadership the city could “gain new momentum and develop again”, Láng said.

LMP: Vitézy Mayorship Solution to Budapest’s 'Intellectual Civil War'

Opposition LMP has voiced its support for a run for Budapest mayor by Dávid Vitézy, a former state secretary for transport, saying his election would “free Budapest from its intellectual civil war”.

Máté Kanász-Nagy, the party’s deputy group leader, told a press conference on Saturday that over the past years, Budapest had become a “political battleground”, adding that the identities of the two mayoral candidates — incumbent mayor Gergely Karácsony and government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi — “fuel these battles”.

He said that by nominating Szentkirályi as its mayoral candidate, ruling Fidesz “has made it clear that it wants Budapest to be the government’s mouthpiece”, insisting that if elected, Szentkirályi “would do what the prime minister tells her”.

Kanász-Nagy also said that at his commemoration of the national holiday on Friday, Karácsony “looked like he wants to be the leader of the opposition, a prime ministerial candidate again”.

He said the municipal elections were about deciding who should be entrusted with managing Budapest’s affairs and making the city better.

“LMP wants to free Budapest from this intellectual civil war,” Kanász-Nagy said, adding they believed the solution was electing “a third way candidate” in the form of Dávid Vitézy.

MTI Photo:  Attila Kovács

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