The gains and snares of unity

Submitted by AWL on 30 October, 2019 - 10:43

A reader reports from Hungary

The results of the 13 October municipal elections in Hungary have seen the first victory for the opposition since 2010.

The candidates fielded against Fidesz won the capital, many districts of the capital (each district also has its own mayor), and 50 out of the 100 most populous cities. They’ve mostly lost in the countryside.

The reason for this success was the co-operation between opposition parties. In multiple cities, they all joined together to back a single candidate, thus avoiding splitting the vote.

In Budapest, the opposition backed Gergely Karácsony (pictured), who won 50% of the votes, beating István Tarlós, who has been the mayor of the city since 2010.

Karácsony himself is the co-leader of the green/centre-left Dialogue party, and his programme proposed to address the city’s housing problems, the catastrophic state of healthcare, climate change, and the lack of transparency.

So far, he has already suspended pending evictions from municipal housing, and launched investigations into the evictions carried out under Tarlós. Although most evictions are carried out from privately-owned property, Karácsony’s actions are still a welcome development.

Fidesz tried to blame their losses on the scandal around the Fidesz backed mayor of Győr, Zsolt Borkai. An anonymous source, claiming to be a lawyer responsible for handling the dirty dealings of Fidesz, accused Borkai of stealing public funds, and using the money to fund coke-fuelled orgies on the Adriatic sea.

He later released multiple videos, one of them showing Borkai on a yacht, mid-coitus, while a naked business associate kept himself busy. It was not a good look for a party which claims to stand for conservative, Christian, family values.

In spite of that, Borkai still managed to win mayor in his city once again, so it’s unclear how much this revelation affected voters.

Using the same strategy of running joint candidates in the next election could loosen, maybe even break, Fidesz’s grip on power. However, that would require co-operating with the far-right Jobbik party. While they are trying to present themselves as moderates, anyone who knows their history shouldn’t be fooled by their strategic dialling back on fascist rhetoric.

A united opposition is a far cry from independent working class politics, even if it might still provide some relief from the exploitation suffered under Fidesz.

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