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Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony and opposition and independent mayors from around Hungary protested on Friday budget cuts affecting municipalities and called for strengthening the Alliance of Hungarian Municipalities (MÖSZ).

Karácsony said parliament would vote on a 2021 budget bill which had a “clear political motive to destroy Hungary’s system of local councils”.

He called on lawmakers “not to stand on the dark side” and vote against the bill.

Karácsony said the budget involved drawing away resources from local councils exactly at a time when they should be helped instead of paying “punitive, extortionate taxes”. Like almost all governments in Europe, the government should get the municipalities involved in crisis management and help them, regardless of party affiliations, he added. Yet, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his government take this opportunity to “destroy local councils”, he said.

He warned that when local municipalities get punished, it is not the mayor but the citizens who elected the mayor that get punished.

In order to multiply the power of the municipalities, they should join forces, Karácsony said, and called on all towns and villages to strengthen MÖSZ. He added that he would propose to the metropolitan council to also join the organisation.

Despite the protest, lawmakers of the ruling parties approved the government’s 2021 budget on Friday.

Featured photo via Gergely Karácsony’s Facebook page