Orbán generously accepted that his party had lost major cities – including Budapest – at the local election, but his minions often found it more difficult to come to terms with the reality.
They have never expected to lose. Many local Fidesz mayors were complaining to the media anonymously that they have never been warned by the party center that their opposition challengers may even have a chance against them. In other words, they grew so complacent in their seats given to them that they truly believed that feudalism is so complete that only Orbán can take that away from them. (Remember the local strongman educating his mayors that there are enough positions for everyone? It all presupposes that positions are handed out by Fidesz – and that is how it was perceived.)
Discontent against Orbán among his loyalists is not something you hear about often. The morons probably still labor under the misapprehension that they are somehow necessary, more than just asses to formally fill seats. And with that comes a butthurt sense of resentment for the prime minister, the boss of all bosses, letting them down – and not the other way around.
In this atmosphere of confusion it is almost forgivable that some Fidesz mayors found defeat an unprecedented thing – and didn’t know how to handle it.
Some odd scenes from the week after the surprise election defeat for many Fidesz mayors in Hungary.
Handing over an office full of shredded documents
Tamás Szabó, the Fidesz mayor of Jászberény since Orbán’s power grab in 2010 only lost by 14 votes to his opposition opponent, Lóránt Budai. The results are naturally contested, but Szabó didn’t rest in the meantime. When the new mayor arrived to take over the office, he found bags of shredded documents – and posted them on Facebook.
Movers take the departing mayors’ books to his flat at 2AM in the morning
Budapest’s 1st district is one of my favorite surprises. The Buda Castle district is conservative AF by definition (and still vote for Fidesz for some reason) yet voters punished the reigning Fidesz mayor by voting in his opponent. The Castle district is where Orbán’s most wasteful vanity constructions take place. He is moving himself and the government back in time and into the medieval (-looking) streets of Buda Castle for astronomical sums of taxpayer money. And now all this is promised to become public, because the new mayor proposed to make all contracts public, including the ones that handed former council flats to OfFidesz success men and loyalists for symbolic rent that wouldn’t buy you a coffee in the neighborhood.
The question on everyone’s mind was whether Orbán would let it happen. One of those wondering was a newly elected opposition representative, who stood guard outside the mayor’s office overnight – and wasn’t disappointed. The video he posted about the incident shows as at 2AM in the night, a movers’ van stops outside the mayor’s office and two movers fill it with boxes. The movers tell him that they are instructed to take it to the mayor’s home and the opposition representative follows them all the way. But when they arrive, no one opens the door, they make a phone call and then reverse back out of the one-way street. Their story and the mayor’s don’t match – and the mayor was quite nervous about what they said. He claims it was his books from his office.
Handing over empty folders without the municipality’s contracts and documents to the new mayor
Similar to the shredder, the Fidesz mayor of Budapest’s 9th district handed over his office with empty folders – as documented by the incoming, new mayor.
And as it is fitting for a sore loser, the old mayor even refused to shake the new mayor’s hand. (To be fair, it could just be because the new mayor is just a female and Fidesz is forcefully and pointedly dismissive of henfolk.)
40 people resigned in the mayor’s office
In Budapest’s 4th district, Újpest, forty loyal Fidesz employees resigned without even a claim for severance to avoid working with the new, non-Fidesz mayor. Even the driver is gone despite the conciliatory tone of the new mayor – or maybe because he promised to expose any wrongdoing when in office.
Refusing to start “playing politics” again
The oddest and most menacing move came from the Fidesz fraction of Baja. They were offered to fill the position of the deputy mayor with a Fidesz delegate, but they angrily refused, as if hey had been offended.
They published a statement that said they refuse to participate in the political division of positions. Between parties, that is. They are perfectly fine when positions are handed out within Fidesz.
“Not wanting to participate in party politics” in this context means refusing to accept that more than one party can coexist and maybe even cooperate: an essential Fidesz mantra they learned from Orbán himself.
This is why it is so interesting to watch how they react to the unimaginable: the return of the need to “play politics” with opposition parties and all. And how they will handle defeat.