Lóránt Budai: All that muck fell back on Fidesz’ head

Conflicts, lies and polarization all the time – that’s what citizens were fed up with and that’s why they ousted the Fidesz-delegated incumbent mayor much more harshly for the second time, says Lóránt Budai. Interview with Jászberény’s new Jobbik-delegated mayor, who was elected twice in one month. After beating his pro-government rival by 14 votes back in October, now he won with a 268 times larger margin.

Was it a big disappointment for you to show such a poor performance?

Me? Why do you say my performance was poor?

I don’t mean last Sunday, I mean on 13 October. Knowing that you were able to defeat your Fidesz-delegated opponent by 3758 votes a few days ago, your 14-vote victory a month back seems quite a meagre triumph.

But the two elections are not really comparable from any aspect. I don’t think we made any mistakes in the first one, either. The narrow victory on 13 October was at least as big of an achievement as the landslide win now.

Something must have changed over the past weeks, though.

Yes. For example, the people of the Jász region don’t particularly care for their opinions being questioned or discarded. And they don’t like being threatened either. That’s what they expressed last Sunday with their tough and assertive stance.

Why weren’t they quite so tough and assertive a month ago?

Because they weren’t prodded like this before the first election. There was no real campaign back then. Fidesz was just trying to wing these local elections. The governing party had no programme, they had no vision for this city, they made no pledges. However, their recent acts really outraged the local citizens. Nothing but conflicts, lies, polarization. The past weeks were characterized by such unrest, they launched such a smear campaign against me in their social media, video messages and leaflets that they upset the people of Jászberény. The citizens felt that this whole charade was pathetic and baseless. They voted for peace and calm prosperity instead. All that muck fell back on Fidesz’ head.

Weren’t you worried about the repeated elections, though? You can’t have expected to increase your 13 October margin 268-fold.

I wasn’t worried at all. I’m happy that last Sunday’s local election had the highest voter turnout ever in Jászberény. This gives me a much higher legitimacy than the result from a month ago. Also, I experienced such an outpour of love toward me in the past weeks that defeat was just unimaginable.

How does love pour out in Jászberény?

I couldn’t walk around in the city without friends and even strangers stopping me to shake my hand, hug me and congratulate me. They said they were yearning for a change and for honest, straight talk. Everybody encouraged me saying they would vote for me in the repeated election. The results show that they kept their promise.

Many of them may have congratulated you with cunning: it never hurts to be on good terms with the future mayor.

Come on! I’ve worked in healthcare for many years, I know people very well. I’m not saying that none of them had ulterior motives but I could easily spot them. The vast majority congratulated me honestly.

How are you getting ready for the new council’s inaugural meeting? Do you have a practical or perhaps a symbolic motion for the event?

As a symbolic step, we will open the town hall for the public and welcome all Jászberény citizens to the inaugural meeting. The council has been working behind closed doors so far but from now on everything will be done in public. As far as practical measures are concerned, one of the first motions will be to start a comprehensive due diligence of the municipality. We need to see a clear picture of the city’s financial status.

Do you have a candidate for this job yet? Csaba Czeglédy perhaps?

No way. This is a very serious professional challenge, we need to consider carefully who to assign for it. We haven’t decided yet.

Aren’t you worried that it will be hard for you to cooperate with council members who used to belong to very different political camps than you? You come from Jobbik while many of the representatives who provide your majority come from the left.

Jászberény is a small city, it can’t be a problem here. I will even need to cooperate with pro-government council members, not just leftist politicians.

It’s not going to be easy, though. During the campaign, the pro-government media confronted you with statements that you used to hold far-right opinions and posted unacceptable quotes from Nazi and Arrow-cross leaders in the social media. That’s a serious burden.

I don’t think I need to comment on that. It’s 2019, I don’t think anybody is interested in that today. This was just a part of the smear campaign against me.

But they may bring up these accusations again any time.

Slanders, to be exact. Look, I’ve lived here in Jászberény for 40 years, everybody knows me quite well. Do you think people would’ve voted for me if they thought that I was far-right? That I hold extremist views?

One more question: if this election was also contested, what would be the outcome of a third round?

I would certainly face the new battle without any fear. No matter how many times I need to.


24.hu - Jobbik.com