Gergely Kovacs, Candidate for Local Mayor

Dear Expats living here in the 12th district,

As you may be aware, mayoral and municipal elections will be held shortly, on the 9th of June. I would like to introduce myself and my plan as I’m one of the candidates for local mayor in the 12th district. I have won 61% of the votes at the pre-election last month when 3 of us, opposition candidates competed in order to choose the one who most likely would beat the Fidesz party candidate. So I will be the one from the opposition running for the mayorship against Mrs Fonti, who is a member of the reigning Fidesz party and has been the deputy mayor of the resigning Mr Pokorni for 14 years. 

A couple of weeks ago, while we were out at the busy areas, collecting votes for the pre-elections, many of you have approached us, asking if we have an English plan for the MKKP party and Gergely Kovacs, our candidate for local mayor. Well, yes, we do have one, so here you are.

Introduction

I’m Gergely Kovacs, a local citizen, living in Csilleberc and I’ve been a board member at the council for 5 years. I am also the co-president of MKKP party. During my work I had to face the fact that things are not going well under the control of the Fidesz party mayor with his board majority at our council. The current leadership, reigning since 2006, doesn’t listen to the residents, avoids involving them in major decisions and assists to shady businesses. Simply put, residents’ problems are not heard, decisions are made despite their will and they are actively collaborating in favour of developers connected to the government party at the expense of the district. 

Mr Pokorni (Fidesz) the current, and resigning local mayor, who’d been mayor for 18 years, is not running again. Instead Krisztina Fonti, his deputy mayor will run for mayorship from their party. She’s been his deputy for 14 years so we can’t really expect any changes in their operation if she gets elected. She and the current mayor have been becoming less and less popular in the past few years because of the way they have been dealing with the district and its residents.

I have a very long list of what we have been doing here in the past 5 years. Our party is mostly famous for acting instead of promising. If we can’t repair it, we make it flashy. Some say that we are only good at street art, meaning painting benches and bus stops, but I’ve been the most active board member of the council, bringing corruption and wrongdoing of the mayor and his deputy public. Although, making your neighbourhood nicer is just as important. You might have noticed a couple of our actions, you just might have not known it was us. These are the ones you probably have seen, they were all performed involving the local residents:

You can read all our previous actions with an online translator, street art is just a part of those. Caution: it’s a long reading. Click on the link below, if you’re interested.

Things we have done and achieved in the past 5 years

Here is a shorter extract of my plan, concentrating on the main problems that you probably have or will encounter while living here. The link to my detailed plan is at the bottom of this page.

Potholes, overall road conditions and safety

Problem: As you likely have noticed, road conditions are disastrous, even a Range Rover could meet challenges when driving in this district. And if you don’t have one, your car’s suspension is likely to be damaged. Crossings are not properly highlighted, parking places are not clearly designated. The 30-year old traffic order needs to be adjusted to the current, different/increased traffic (for example change two-way narrow roads to one-way, or eliminate parking places to keep the two-way traffic). The municipality has either not dealt with this area, or when they have, they’ve repaired irrelevant, low traffic streets, although the finances of the district could have allowed them to do more. This is among the most important problems, I got lots of complaints from the local citizens about this. 

Solution: Repairing road and pavement surfaces, including indicative road paintings, making crossings safer is one of the first actions we plan to do. The municipality does have the funds to do so, they just simply didn’t take action, but I’d like to start these as soon as possible.

Communicative, responsive, interactive municipality 

Problem: The webpage, social media pages and the local newspaper operated by the council is unfortunately an exclusive propaganda of the Mayor and the governing party Fidesz, suggesting that everything is perfect, there are no problems at all. Residents’ problems are not heard and not dealt with, complaints and criticism are covered up except in certain cases when the outrage of the locals becomes too loud and public. Residents “can” express their problems once a year at the annual public hearing, but they are not taken into account in decision-making. In addition, foreigners living here are completely excluded from this. The whole webpage and digital operation of the municipality and its services are technologically very backward, they need significant improvement. The local “Hegyvidek” newspaper and TV does not allow board members from the opposition parties to express their plans, visions or opinions on local cases at all, although they are representing the residents in their electoral zones of the 12 within our district. They are neither introduced before or after the election in order to inform the residents who they can vote for and later who they can turn to if they have questions or complaints.

Solution: We would like to make the official webpage interactive where the questions and reported problems, along with the responses are public, so you might not even need to ask a question if you see the same or similar question to yours. The printed version of the local newspaper has been delivered to the mailboxes for decades, not considering the digital era, so very few people read it, most of them end up in the bin unread. We’d like to make a survey if the printed version is needed at all, if yes, it will be delivered to only those who request so, avoiding producing rubbish unnecessarily. Or, alternatively we could print it on baking paper, so you can use it in the oven at least. The council should ask the residents’ opinion through surveys more often, especially before major decisions and the results of the surveys should be public. And of course, the decision should reflect their opinion. We also plan to integrate an English/Hungarian chat service on the website for urgent questions and problems.

Voluntary involvement of residents, including foreigners

Problem: The volunteering potential of the locals is totally unused by the council at the moment. The council responds to social requests slowly and only when it’s necessary. Our first-hand experience is that the wealthier locals come and help for the first call. They willingly donate food or equipment (TV, washing machine, computers and many other type of things) whenever we just post it on social media.

Solution: Local people should be notified and involved to participate in more social activities. When Covid broke out we quickly organised help for the elderly and people in reduced/straitened circumstances, only by involving local citizens. We went shopping for groceries, medicines for them, walked their dogs and even made a program called “The district is cooking for the poverty-stricken”. The locals cooked a couple of extra portions at home, other locals collected and delivered them. We’ve been in touch with the people in need living here ever since and only a facebook post is usually enough to get a laptop or a TV for someone who couldn’t afford a new one when the old one died. Imagine, if we could do that on a higher level, backed up by the council’s social welfare department and a storage facility where we could collect and distribute these items.

Foreigner friendly environment

Problem: There aren’t really any public spaces for the locals with regular activities for children, the elderly, or foreigners provided for free use by the council. The only few ones are not being used regularly and the activities are controlled and not effectively promoted. NGOs are poorly supported by the current local leadership.

Solution: There are many empty commercial premises owned by the council. Some are in bad conditions but not all of them. Some of them are empty because of their location, so letting them for profit based companies is not an option. We would like to involve many more NGO’s by letting them use these empty spaces with a discounted rent and provide their programs with funds if these programs are about activities and help for the locals. A few examples: 

  • Cultural, art programs
  • Learning/teaching programs for kids and adults including language programs where local foreigners and Hungarians can attend, learning about each other cultures, get to know each other (like multilingual playhouse for children, chat clubs, etc)
  • Giving space for regular national activities organised by local foreigners to meet each other from the same nation
  • Financial support by tender for activities to help the local foreigners develop and maintain their own community in the district  

And many more….

There are many more problems with how the current, but resigning mayor, Mr Pokorni and his deputy, Mrs Fonti (now running for mayorship) have been doing wrong for more than a decade. If you didn’t get bored reading, here’s some more reading.

Constructions and preservation of green areas 

Further developments would permanently harm the districts’ quality of life, because building more condominiums with large numbers of flats into green areas is bad for the environment. Not just by cutting the trees but by the increased number of cars, heavy traffic because the local circumstances do not allow build more roads or widen them

Public procurements 

Hundreds of millions got lost by the overpriced bids, by invitational tenders, inviting the same old companies. The procedure is legal, but directed, ending up with an overpriced deal instead of the best possible one. The Integrity Authority has imposed a fine already and recommended the council to avoid this method (unsuccessfully). I also tabled a motion on this, but it was voted down by the Fidesz board majority.

Property sales

 Last year, the local municipality sold HUF 1 billion worth of property, and this year they plan to sell for another HUF 2 billion. Most of the properties are sold at below their value in directed sales where only the singled out buyer can sign the contract.

Other matters

Our full plan also includes further topics, like families and children; helping the elderly; littering; social welfare and health matters; responsible pet ownership, involving the non-Hungarian speaking residents, too.

My whole, detailed program can be found here, you can read it with an online translator.  If you live here permanently and are into politics, it’s a pretty informative and long reading. 

Plan of MKKP Party for the 12th district in Budapest

If you would like to share your opinion about improvements you think are important, please fill this short, anonym form:

12th district form for non-Hungarian speakers

If you have any questions, concerns or need further information, send me an email to kovacs.gergely@mkkp.hu

If you agree that changes are necessary after almost two decades of exclusionary and corrupt leadership, please vote for our MKKP candidates and vote for me as the new local mayor. All our candidates are local, they live and/or work here so it’s in their best interest to make this district better, too.

Facebook page of MKKP 12th district

Facebook page of Gergely Kovacs

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