The world over newspapers and TV news programs are carrying the devastating pictures of villages covered with red toxic sludge. The disaster in Ajka is on everybody's lips. So I don't have to report about the events here.
Instead I will turn to a lighter subject: the rise and fall of the mayor of Esztergom. His name is Tamás Meggyes, and in the last ten years he became infamous nationwide. He was the terror of the town. I wondered when Viktor Orbán would have enough of Meggyes and would make sure that he was not a candidate for parliament and for mayor in 2010. I wrote about him and what he did to Esztergom, a city of 30,000, a year ago. Orbán didn't get rid of him, and at the time of the national elections it looked as if he had bet on the right horse after all. Meggyes won his seat easily. But then came the prospect of having Meggyes as mayor for another four years and the inhabitants of Esztergom unequivocally said "no way!"
The leading local members of the different parties got together and decided to support an independent candidate, Éva Tétényi, an architect. MSZP, MDF, LMP, some Fidesz members who formed a civic group called Civil Association for the City of Esztergom, and, yes, even the local Jobbik supported her in order to get rid of Meggyes who shows signs of mental instability. I remember the consternation in liberal circles about the morality of making common cause with Jobbik even if on the local level. Was it the right thing to do? Certainly the local liberals didn't have compunctions. They felt that first and foremost they had to get rid of Meggyes.
And it worked. Voter turnout was unusually high and Meggyes suffered a devastating defeat. Three-quarters of the votes went to Tétényi supported by all political forces, including some Fidesz leaders who had had enough of the incumbent. An awful weight was lifted. Newspapermen who visited Esztergom from Győr talked about the smiling faces of people on the streets. At the same time some were worried that Éva Tétényi will have a very difficult time because on the city council out of the fourteen members nine are from Fidesz, including Meggyes himself who managed to win a seat. She will have a difficult time, that is, if she ever manages to actually become the mayor of Esztergom.
Meggyes refuses to hand over the office and the local Fidesz is protesting the results. According to Meggyes and his cronies the opposition cheated. So, Tétényi set up shop in one of the corridors of city hall. Meggyes went by her one day and asked whether her conscience is clear because "dark forces are behind her."
The Fidesz members of the city council, eight of them plus one independent, protested (óvást emeltek). They claim that at early dawn on election day–that is during the campaign silence–disparaging pamphlets about Meggyes were distributed. Moreover, they claim that there have been continuing voting irregularities. The villains are "entrepreneurs and businessmen who in the last three years committed terrorist acts against Tamás Meggyes." They also claim that unnamed persons stole intimate pictures of the mayor from his very own laptop. Apparently these pictures are already available on the internet. At the end, they said, they "accept the results but maintain that these results were arrived at through electoral fraud."
As far as I know, these terrorist acts exist only in Tamás Meggyes's head. I would be surprised if even a single one turned out to have any foundation. As for the "protest," I don't know what these people want to achieve with it. However, one thing is sure: even if Tétényi eventually manages to get an office in city hall, Meggyes and his supporters on the council will make sure that no business is ever successfully concluded in Esztergom. In the end, most likely he will win.