We were told time and again that the majority of the citizens of Esztergom favors Fidesz. They had serious problems only with Tamás Meggyes. It wasn’t the party that was the problem but Medgyes as an erratic and incompetent person. And, indeed, if one looks at the election results it is clear that although only 25% of the electorate voted for Meggyes, out of the nine Esztergom districts eight went to Fidesz candidates and the ninth to an “independent” supported by Fidesz. The naive citizens of Esztergom thought that the sole problem was the presence of Medgyes. If he is gone, all will be fine. They were wrong. Very wrong.
I mentioned already that Meggyes refused to give up his office, but one could say, “well, by law he actually had eight days to hand over the affairs of the city and he is sticking to this date.” Fine, but then the very last day, October 12, arrived and the official ceremony was set for nine o’clock in the morning. In the last minute Meggyes phoned saying that he’ll be late. So the mayor, the town clerk, the deputy town clerk, and the employees of city hall waited and waited and waited until 11 o’clock when Meggyes finally showed up. However, at that point he announced that he has no intention of moving out of his office until October 22. He later demanded that the city of Esztergom provide him with a permanent office and an official car because after all he is a member of parliament representing the district.
All that is pretty bad, but what is happening now is really outrageous. Perhaps the inhabitants of Esztergom have learned something since the elections: the problem wasn’t only Meggyes. There are fourteen members of the city council. Nine are Fidesz and the one independent is anything but. And these ten people decided to make the job of the new mayor, Éva Tétényi, impossible. By law, the council is supposed to vote on the nomination of two deputy mayors, but the Fidesz members announced that none of them would accept such a nomination for half a year. Why half a year? Because if poor Tétényi can’t come up with her own deputies new elections must take place. Tétényi, who is in favor of full transparency, held the council meeting in a high school auditorium which was packed with about 500 people. Tétényi asked each Fidesz member whether he would accept the nomination. All nine plus the “independent” said no. The audience was outraged and booed and whistled. (Whistling in Hungary means disapproval.) Some people shouted: “Where is the national co-operation?”
One of the Fidesz members suggested that the lone MSZP member of the council should be the deputy mayor, but Tétényi expressed her opinion that the deputy mayor should come from the majority party. At that point the Fidesz members left the auditorium. The new mayor told the audience that the city has a sizeable debt (20 billion forints) that must be paid by 2012. She also told the people gathered there that at the moment there is “fear in city hall” and the new administration cannot work without hindrance. In fact, there is dual leadership at the moment. For example, she and her co-workers have no internet access or telephone connection to the outside world. They use their own personal telephones. She added that she is hoping to get help resolving this situation from Fidesz in Budapest.
Tétényi might turn to Viktor Orbán, but I wouldn’t bet that help will come from above. It seems that in the few places where the mayor is not a member of Fidesz but the majority of the council members are, similar scenes are occurring. The most important such city is Szeged. László Botka (MSZP) won handily but he is faced with a split city council of 28 members: half are Fidesz supporters and one represents Jobbik. In the past there were three deputy mayors, one of whom was László Solymos (MSZP). Botka wanted to have two more, preferably from the Fidesz caucus, and he offered the job to several members, including László B. Nagy whom Botka just defeated. Zsolt Bohács, the leader of the Fidesz group in the council, announced that the party does not wish to fill the position of deputy mayor. I assume the game plan was hatched somewhere in Budapest. Don’t fill the necessary posts and in six months the Constitutional Court will order new elections. And then perhaps they will get rid of Tétényi and Botka and anybody else they don’t particularly like.
As for Esztergom, perhaps some of you recall that a few months ago a small demonstration took place when Viktor Orbán visited the town. Placards asked for help against Meggyes. Orbán used a back door in order to avoid the demonstrators. And, needless to say, no help came. Orbán didn’t drop Meggyes; in fact, he supported Meggyes’s bid for a seat in parliament.
What will happen now? These kinds of political shenanigans are end runs around democracy and reflect poorly on Fidesz.