Republikon Institute held a conference on November 15th 2023, about Budapest which turnes 150 this year. We also looked at the role of the city in the 2024 local and European Parliament election. Furthermore, the state of the Hungarian parties and the whole electoral system were examined, with the addition of introducing the results of the Institute’s summer research of Budapest.
In the beginning of the event, Gábor Demszky, former lord mayor of Budapest who led the city for 20 years, told the story of the foundation of Budapest. After this, he spoke about how special Budapest position still is, even in the current Orbán – regime, because the city is still „the heart of the country” in every mean, despite being restricted both financially and legally. According to him, Budapest will recreate itself, just as always in history.
Zoltán Ranschburg, the chief analyst of Republikon Institute, introduced the Institute’s newest research, the data of which were recorded both in the summer and in the autumn. According to the party preference, Fidesz – KDNP is still the most popular party in Budapest with 30% of the votes. Because of the the low rate of unsure voters, we can assume that the residences of Budapest are politically active. Looking at popularity, Gergely Karácsony is one of the most popular politician in Budapest, but the potential lord mayor candidate of Fidesz – KDNP, Alexandra Szentkirályi isn’t too far behind Karácsony. Furthermore, the collaboration of opposition parties is greatly supported among voters. Finally, according to the respondents, the most problematic case in Budapest turned out to be the healthcare system. Overall, the conclusion of the research is that party preference greatly influenced the results of it.
Analyst roundtable discussion:
Balázs Böcskei, the research chairman of Idea Institute, spoke about that public policy regulations, such as parking and transportation, often stuck in process, because mayors are part of the municipal assembly of Budapest. In addition, he thinks that the distrust between opposition parties can be seen as risks regarding the election results. Finally, according to him, research shouldn’t be done only on a district level, but on a residential are level too.
According to Róbert László, the election expert of Political Capital, there are no actual fair electoral systems, because political interests always influence the details of them. He also stated, that the uncertain situations prior to the elections can lead to somewhat comical, but more likely to tragic cases. Furthermore, he mentioned that by the basis of the 2022 national election, the opposition should win at least 18 or 19 districts out of 23 in Budapest
Ágoston Sámuel Mráz, the chairman of Nézőpont Institute, said that the problems of the local government system could be fixed by implementing the basis of the parliamentary. In addition, he believes that the parties should focus on their voter bases, because participation rates are usually around only 50% at local elections. In the end, he mentioned that numbers and datas can’t always indicate secure political decisions.
Tibor Závecz, the founder of Závecz Research, thinks that the situation of Fidesz after the local election won’t be any better with the current circumstances. Furthermore, the goal of Budapest should be becoming more significant in the region and even among the other capitals of it. He even stated that the general election is much more crucial from the perspective of Hungary’s future, than the European Parliament election, which functions as a „test of power”.
The roundtable discussion was moderated by Gábor Horn, the chairman of Republikon Foundation.
Co-founded by the European Union.