“Independent candidate” can mean one of two things nowadays:
1) Non-Fidesz candidate supported by all parties of the opposition – so he has either dropped his own party label or a genuinely non-partisan politician
2) Orbánist candidate trying to come across as the people’s man
(Good luck figuring out how to vote.)
But this town mayor is a third kind.
In 2019 he won against the Orbánist candidate during the municipal elections. But he wasn’t exactly an opposition politician. He used to be the Fidesz mayor, but fell out with the party for being too independent and Fidesz nominated another candidate. The new candidate got Orbán’s support, had the mandatory photo with Orbán, got all the money and ministers threatened the town that there will be no money unless their candidate wins. Our guy ran as independent and beat Fidesz anyway. So he is OfFidesz – just thrown out of the party.
But that doesn’t mean he is now opposition. In an interview he was talking about the famous byelection in his district, when Orbán’s infamous 2/3 supermajority was nominally challenged. Our guy stood behind the Fidesz MP candidate who then won the seat in a despairingly nasty campaign that included threats of budget cuts and withdrawal of state handouts if the anti-Orbán candidate is elected, they handed out potatoes and free laptops to voters and a dozen ministers and Fidesz hotshots visited the district in support of the Orbánist candidate. She also spent more than allowed just on Facebook and there were documented instances of voter intimidation – a term that sounds sanitized and negligible when you are not there to see it.
During this nasty campaign, our non-Fidesz mayor chose to put his weight and reputation behind the Fidesz candidate – despite being even worse than an opposition candidate: a traitor to Fidesz.
The reporter dares to ask why a rebel would do that, which is a shockingly honest question that we never hear anymore. (This should be the real story – but how do you write a post about things that do not happen anymore?) His answer was candid:
“I knew that many people won’t like that I supported (the Fidesz candidate), but this regime will be with us until 2022 and if a mayor cannot cooperate with it, if he is sulking in a corner, things will not move forward (in his town)…
“I used to live in the Kádár-regime, cronyism and informal lobbying has worked strongly back then just as it does now. Those who had good connections to Comrade Bodnár and above, had a way, they received things.
“This is why 38 out of the 42 mayors in the district supported (the Fidesz candidate) like I did because that is how this world works.”
János Kádár has been the prime minister during the last decades of the pre-1989 autocracy known as communism. During his era, just like now, sucking up to Party higher-ups and hoping for the benevolence of Kádár has been everything. Then, just like now, the worst kinds of people thrived. Many of them are the same people.