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Gergely Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest who also leads a leftist opposition party, launched his re-election campaign on Saturday, declaring that he stood for a more European, greener city which stood for greater solidary, values which were associated with a republican form of governance. Unveiling his campaign slogan “We’re giving Budapest a future”, Karácsony said at the event that a republican alliance meant “treating each other well and forming a community”. The mayor added that the institutions and the idea of the republic had been stripped from the constitution 14 years ago, “so it’s vital that Budapest remains a republic”. Referring to the election in 120 days’ time, he said the ruling Fidesz party neither had a candidate for mayor nor a manifesto for the capital. Instead, Fidesz had issued a “declaration of war”, he insisted. The mayor also said he would reach out to the green LMP party on the possibility of running together in the local municipal elections.
Karácsony said the life of the average Budapest resident was five years shorter than that of residents of other large European cities, and he appealed to voters to trust another five years to him in office so he could press ahead with policies that would extend their life expectancy by five years in a decade or two. He referred to his administration’s approach to public areas, saying aspects such as shade, noise reduction, air quality and amenities like benches were important aspects of policymaking. He said that his administration planned a “Budapest climate agency” with EU financing to promote environmentally sound investments. The mayor also noted a metropolitan council scheme using 20 billion forints of EU money to replace lead pipes and renew public drinking fountains.
Karácsony said that whereas he was proud of the past four-and-a-half years of his administration, he nevertheless felt that the “glass was half empty” since they had implemented projects that had been long overdue, such as the renovation of Chain Bridge and Blaha Lujza Square. “Only now can we turn to talk of the future,” he added.