Budapest Mayor István Tarlós, in a public radio interview over the weekend, slammed the opposition’s mayoral election campaign in the capital, calling it a “destabilisation attempt” that was “not even about the city itself”. Asked what kind of a campaign he was expecting in Budapest, Tarlós told Kossuth Rádió that the opposition’s campaign “is more like a thrown-together destabilisation attempt with no variety focused on revenge that makes no sense whatsoever in terms of the management of the capital”. The incumbent mayor said the opposition’s messaging was not even focused on Budapest, adding that the proposals they have put forward were “rather unbelievable”. Tarlós argued that many of their proposals were legally unfeasible and that the opposition candidates who were competent in managing a municipality had already had their chance and failed before 2010.
He criticised the city leadership under former liberal Budapest mayor Gábor Demszky, saying “it was they who left behind the unmanageable operational deficits and it was under their tenure that Budapest’s international perception was damaged.” He said the opposition politicians who had been in power before 2010 “promised Budapest an actual green rainforest” at a recent press conference. “How come this never crossed their minds before 2010?” Tarlós asked. “How is it that they only planted a few hundred trees a year while we plant an average of 2,000 a year?” He said the pre-2010 Budapest leadership had not cared about historical parks like the one on Margaret Island and had barely spent anything on upgrading public parks, which the current leadership spent 5.5 billion forints (EUR 16.6m) on between 2015 and 2019. He noted that back in 2010, Budapest transport company BKV had operated 24-year-old buses and 30-40-year-old trams. Tarlós said it was under his tenure that Budapest transport authority BKK completed the interconnected tram network project in Buda. He also noted the renovation of Széll Kálmán Square and the introduction of selective waste management as part of his record.
Since 2010, the local council has stabilised the management of the city, including BKV, he said. Budapest no longer needs an operating loan and only has a “well-managed development credit line”, he added. Trains on the third metro line were recently renovated and air conditioning will soon be installed on them, the mayor said. Some 700 billion forints’ worth of development projects have been approved by the local council, Tarlós said. These will include the revamp of the iconic Chain Bridge, the replacement of more BKV vehicles, the renovation of Blaha Lujza Square and Széna Square, the development of the European cycling route network Eurovelo as well as the upgrade of the road leading to Liszt Ferenc International Airport. He said Budapest’s e-ticket system, which will be coupled with the national system, is currently in its introduction phase. With the various developments on schedule, Tarlós said, “in the future we’ll be able to concentrate on environmental protection and the problem of homelessness”.
Over the last nine years, Budapest’s prestige has risen in the eyes of the international community, Tarlós said, adding that just this year, Budapest was awarded the title of ‘European Best Destination’.