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Candidates of five political parties in the Budapest municipal election set for June 9 participated in a debate hosted by commercial television channel ATV late on Sunday and presented their proposals for the capital’s development.
Alexandra Szentkirályi, list leader of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance and Péter Magyar of the Tisza Party had declined to attend, ATV said.
Dávid Vitézy, a candidate backed by the green LMP party, said he did not want to be “a party politician … using Budapest as a springboard”. He said his focus was Budapest’s development. He said public transport services between central Budapest and its greater area must be improved and called for a “fight” for government support to an upgrade of suburban train services and railway developments, developing the tram network and speeding up road renovations. He criticised the incumbent mayor, Gergely Karácsony, for “getting involving in national politics rather than promoting the interests of Budapest residents”.
Karácsony said he would work for “an even greener Budapest with more solidarity for needy residents”. He said the city called for cleaner air and affordable rental housing. In the next cycle, he said, the city would spend a total 56 billion forints in EU funding for increasing green areas under his leadership. Karácsony noted that life expectancy in Budapest was 5 years lower than in other capitals of Europe. He insisted that in the past five years Budapest had seen “the largest outpatient service development” in its history, and said he wanted to continue in that spirit. He also stressed that health institutions should be kept under the control of district governments rather than centralised. Budapest is a “free, loyal and diverse European city … while the government represents the opposite of all that, which does not make cooperation easy.” He added, however, that he was willing to cooperate “with anyone”, but he would not give up his principles.