The capital’s administration is launching a consultation called the “Budapest Residents’ Meeting,” which will include two questions related to the iconic, recently renovated Chain Bridge: one on the government’s compliance with its contribution pledge, the other on the traffic regime of the renewed bridge, Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony announced on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
In his video, the Mayor reminded that the first two questions of the Budapest residents’ meeting, which starts this week, are about the city’s financial situation and whether “we accept that the government takes 12 times as much money from the capital as it did under the previous city government”. He stressed that the anti-Budapest government policy must and can be answered regardless of party sympathies.
The future of the renewed Chain Bridge depends on the decision of the people of Budapest, he said. He added: after decades of delay, the Chain Bridge has been renovated, and the works carried out by the capital city are proceeding ahead of schedule and within budget. According to Gergely Karácsony, the government has only taken on a small part of the renovation costs, HUF 6 billion (EUR 16 million).
The Chain Bridge at the center of Budapest. Photo: Pixabay
The Chain Bridge will be completed soon, but the government has not yet transferred a single forint of the “promised and agreed amount.” “The Chief Minister of the government has signed the agreement, which sanctifies the agreement that the traffic regime of the Chain Bridge will be decided until the bridge is opened. They read this as ‘they will decide for us.’ The promised support has become blackmail,” said the Mayor.
He added that he would, however, stick to his promise that a decision on the traffic regime on the Chain Bridge would be taken before the bridge was opened.
But it is out of the question to leave this decision to the government, and it is neither appropriate nor democratic for me to make this decision as mayor, because this bridge does not belong to the government, nor to the city administration, but to the nation, and primarily to the people of Budapest.
Therefore, it is up to the people of Budapest to decide the fate of the Chain Bridge,” he said.
Gergely Karácsony stated that the city’s strength, the decision of the people of Budapest, should be used to make the government keep its promise. This is what the two questions of the Budapest residents’ meeting are about keeping the government’s promise, agreeing to the renovation of the Chain Bridge, and the traffic regime of the renewed, beautified Chain Bridge, he explained.
The Budapest branch of the governing party, Fidesz, also reacted to the Mayor’s words in a statement, saying that.
the condition of the HUF 6 billion government support for the Chain Bridge was that the total or partial restriction of vehicle traffic should not exceed 18 months.
They added that the agreement on this was signed by Gergely Karácsony himself, but now he wants to kick it down the road, citing a “community residents’ meeting.”
The party also pointed out that when it came to the decision of the arbitrary closure of the quay or the painting of cycle paths without professional consultation, Gergely Karácsony was not so willing to discuss it with anyone.
The Mayor of Budapest, who is an opposition politician, tends to go against the government on many issues. Recently, Gergely Karácsony claimed that the capital is basically going bankrupt because of the taxes they need to pay to the government, among them the so-called solidarity tax, which he questioned. He then said the capital cannot pay more taxes into the central budget.
The opposition politician has repeatedly complained that Budapest does not have enough money because of the government, but this claim has since been refuted by Finance Minister Mihály Varga. The Minister pointed out that the left-wing city government had used up its reserves despite the fact that the capital’s tax revenues were higher than ever before, and its tax capacity was growing year on year.
Featured photo via Facebook/Gergely Karácsony