Hungary’s Hope for Change
The local elections in Hungary represent a major political setback for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Not only did the joint candidate of the opposition, Gergely Karácsony, defeated the Fidesz-backed incumbent István Tarlós in the mayoral election in Budapest; the opposition also made considerable gains in other Hungarian cities. However, in rural areas the Fidesz party is still the dominant power.
In an interview with freiheit.org, Anikó Paróczai, newly elected member of the Budapest city council and this year’s “European Women’s Academy” participant, assesses the success of the opposition parties and explains what the local elections mean for her country.
How do you explain the success of the opposition in the local elections?
During the last elections, it became crystal clear that there are more people in favor of change than those who wish to conserve the current system. The local elections were the proof that indeed, when we offer voters the clear chance of change they will be committed and vote for the party that represents that change.
Moreover, it also seems that opposition parties had a better chance to win this time due to coordinating their candidates. The recipe for the success was that all the significant opposition parties joined forces, and presented joint candidates on the mayoral and representative levels.
Is the victory of the opposition a signal for the entire country? What does it mean for the parliamentary elections in 2022?
There is still a lot to be done and we, as the opposition forces, need to be present in a lot more places throughout the county. This will of course be a challenge, but I believe we are on the right track.
In addition to this, this win by the opposition forces was necessary for all those voters who believe in the values and fundaments of democracy. The results gave us back the hope that change is coming and that the regime of Viktor Orbán can indeed be beaten.
[Editor’s note: Last weekend’s local elections were the first major defeat for the ruling Fidesz party in an election since 2006.]
How far does Fidesz also create “authoritarian” structures on the local level and how will the opposition counter these? What are the most pressing issues for Budapest in the next years?
Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party is in a tight corner right now. They know that if they continue to undermine the financial and legislative powers of the municipalities, it will potentially lead to more opposition voters.
Speaking from the perspective of the opposition, we do understand that it is not going to be easy to work in the current environment; however, we do have the passion to be change makers in our country.
About Anikó Paróczai
Anikó Paróczai is the Director of the International Office of the liberal party Momentum and a freshly elected member of the local council in the 19th district Budapest. Before going into politics, Anikó was a civil rights activist, fighting for equal education for all and the rights of the youth. She participated in the German Federal Elections as an International Election Observer Coordinator, and led the European Citizens Initiative “More Education!” in Hungary in 2017.