After her impressive victory, Csilla Fazekas, the Fidesz-KDNP candidate who won a seat in the municipal council of Budapest’s 1st district on Sunday, was congratulated by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The by-election was held because a former council representative, Ferenc Gelencsér of the Momentum party resigned after becoming a member of parliament. With this victory Fazekas retook the traditionally conservative-voting district from the left, meaning that Márta V. Naszályi, the Momentum mayor and the opposition representative who support her have lost their majority in the general assembly.
Below is an abridged translation of the interview Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet conducted with Csilla Fazekas after she met with the prime minister in his Buda office.
How important is this victory for Fidesz?
The First District is a symbolic place. I think it is the most beautiful area of the capital and of Hungary. Compared to the previous by-elections, we managed to win amid a huge turnout. Our victory is a massive achievement considering that the left sent all their high-profile politicians into battle. The district turned into a real war zone, since Gergely Karácsony, Klára Dobrev and Ágnes Kunhalmi all campaigned for Momentum’s candidate. The leftist myth that the right has lost Budapest has been spectacularly disproved. Their other myth that we have fewer supporters among the youth has also turned out to be false. Those who helped me—one of the best teams ever, for which I am so grateful—are young conservatives aged 20 to 30. One can rely on them in building the future as well.
Do you expect constructive cooperation on the opposition’s part? What is your opinion about Balázs Fürjes‘s remarks [who said on Facebook that the mayor should step down and call for a by-election]? Should the mayor resign after Sunday’s results?
This should be answered by the mayor herself, to whom Mr Fürjes addressed his words. In my opinion we should not be discussing positions, we should discuss the reality of starting actual work in the district. This election showed that people have realised the left has engaged in public relations politics and no progress has been made in the most important areas. For example, what typically constantly bothers those who live here is that the cleanliness of the streets in the district continues to worsen. This, by the way, has been true for the entirety of Budapest since the left took control.
Your predecessor, Ferenc Gelencsér aimed to rehabilitate Vérmező. This was the only actual plan he ever came up with while in office. Are you looking to gentrify the area as well?
The improvement and renewal of Vérmező is quite important. Many residents of the first district use it. I think that this project should not be a mere ‘facelift’. The project proposed by the leftist leadership is flawed in many ways. The entire project lacks vision…It is also important to note that the area in question is owned by the capital, thus, it should be the Budapest municipality that renews it. However, for some reason, the first district is the one providing the financing of 200 million forints for the project. Another question is what our priorities are. As a first step, public lighting and drinking fountains should be fixed. After that, benches, street litter bins and other street furniture need to be repaired.
Don’t you think that the claim that the right took over leadership of the district is an exaggeration? At present, Fidesz can only outvote V. Naszályi with the votes of two former Jobbik representatives.
There have been a number of issues in the past regarding which the two ex-Jobbik representatives voted down proposals from the left. I trust that we will be able to work together, and for the good of those in the district make decisions that allow our plans aiming to improve the lives of those living here come to fruition.
What are your plans for 2024?
The times ahead are definitely difficult. What matters most in such circumstances is to have a stable set of values, which only the political right has. I trust that the government will be able to help the Hungarian people even in these hard times and put their interests first as they have done before. But it is not predictions that we are expected to make, but to get down to work. And as our election campaign has shown, putting in the work will provide results.