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Opposition Parties Address Parliament’s Autumn Opening Session

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.10.21.

Addressing parliament’s opening autumn session on Monday in which Prime Minister Viktor Orbán promised government cooperation “to all mayors and local councils that are themselves ready to cooperate”, opposition leaders said the outcome of the local elections heralded a new era for successful opposition cooperation.

Péter Jakab, leader of the Jobbik parliamentary group, said “the reunification of the nation” had begun on the day of the local election, and voters had signalled their intention to change the government in the 2022 general election.

After the prime minister made his opening speech, Jakab said voters on Oct. 13 had not given into “threats, blackmail and intimidation” and instead had opted for the most credible opposition candidate.

He added that around 4 million “compatriots” in 10 major cities and the capital, as well as “countless smaller towns”, had “bought a ticket for the change of government in 2022”.

Responding to the PM’s speech, Bertalan Tóth, the Socialist Party’s group leader, pledged the opposition would continue its cooperation. “We’ll be working together up to 2022”. He said the opposition parties had got the message of voters and now the opposition would have to perform better in smaller cities. Localities run by opposition councils will have to work hard to reduce social inequalities, he added.

Párbeszéd group leader Tímea Szabó said the local council elections had marked the start of opposition cooperation. “We have now liberated Budapest and we will liberate the whole country in 2022,” she said after the PM’s speech. She said the elections had shown that Budapest residents and those of many big cities were now “fed up” with the ruling parties and “crave for freedom” after the “threats and extortion of millions of people”. Szabó said Budapest, which generates 37 percent of GDP, only clawed back one percent in funding, and this had led to “the destruction of hospitals”.

MSZP MP Bertalan Tóth. Image by MTI/Tamás Kovács

Leader of the Democratic Coalition (DK), Ferenc Gyurcsány, qualified the outcome of the local elections as an uprising against the ruling parties. Whereas he said he did not want to argue over who had won the elections, it was clear that the more politically significant localities had voted for the opposition, and this had sent “a clear message”. In localities with more than 10,000 residents, the opposition had performed better than the governing parties, he said. Gyurcsány said when “excellent” pro-government mayors had been “voted out”, it had been because of the government’s policies rather than their own. “This was not just a local vote; it was a rebellion against your policies,” he said after Orbán’s speech.

László Lóránt Keresztes, the leader of the LMP group, said the Oct. 13 election had marked a “massive defeat” for the governing parties, adding that now three million people lived in localities run by the opposition. He said it was now up to opposition leaders to prove “they can govern towns with efficiency and integrity”.

featured image: Jobbik MP Péter Jakab speaking; via MTI/Tamás Kovács