Chief burgomaster Gábor Demszky

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A politician who I like as well as I does not.

I like him because…

I like him because it may be him who wants that political success more than anybody else which he is ready to work for even day after day. He does not only expect to be written about but steadily builds his well-known public image. He seems to consciously plan that among his daily programs he shall always have an action salable to the media and plan his public appearance, which two both popularize him. He does all these with those western tools which I think most of his fellow-„politicians” have no idea of.

I also like him because ha has usually perceptible purposes and strikingly huge ability to work. When Gábor Demszky was first elected to the chief burgomaster of Budapest in 1990 I did not really like the „entering” statements of this 38-year-old politician who had already a 10 year experience of politics by then, but no tools of leading. I remember that in his short speech in the Parliament about resigning his post as an MP and debuting as chief burgomaster he laid stress on the message that during his office as chief burgomaster there would be no political favoritism and none of his fellow-deputies should appeal to him if their cars got towed because of parking in a no-parking area. The most known steps of the first year fell under making order and under the resolution based on power, too. Many people called Gábor Demszky „car-stealer” at that time. As chairman of the VOSZ I invited him for a lunch sometime then (perhaps it was the first and the last time we had a talk between the two of us) and remarked that he got an unbelievable chance when he became the elected leader of one of the world’s most beautiful capitols this young. He cannot afford that only the „car-stealer” news shall remain of him to the posterity. He has to make order with determined steps to make everybody feel it but the communiqués have to be published on what he is building, inaugurating, putting into operation. I advised him to invent and carry something out what would surely get in the Budapest guides of the next 100 years, like „… this district of the city was started to shape in 1990 based on the idea of Gábor Demszky, chief burgomaster of that time”. As an example I raised the possibility of the millenarian inner city what could be built in the place of the unused Ganz plants and the ruinous parts of the district VIII. if he was ready to enter into a controversy with his fellow party member, Mihály Ráday.

Gábor Demszky could change and a year later I noticed that while the Antal-government was touching bedrock, meanwhile he surely became the number one person taking part in the television news. Although the scale of the policy he chose was under what I raised, the question of punishing the parking contravention did not come up at all (while – imperceptibly – the parking in all the streets in and around the inner city became paying). The news was always dealing with the city developing and growing wealthy.

I liked him, because in spite of the MSZP-SZDSZ coalition he entered into hard controversy with the government anytime he thought the interest of the capitol required it. He had not disowned his party, the SZDSZ, even after the fiasco on the 1998 elections, although many people could advise him that he could face the chief burgomaster election having the chance of success only if he declared his estrangement from his party which seriously lost from its position on the elections. On the 1994 election he however did not tell the electorate to vote for him and not the candidate of the bourgeois opposition just because of his party-affiliation the capitol directed by him could expect much more pecuniary assistance from the MSZP-SZDSZ government than an opposition-directed Budapest could reach. His today succession should have really learnt this attitude (strong political character) from him.

I do not like him because…

A few months ago, when my friends asked me about the chief burgomaster I usually answered „I do not really like him because his personality is not close enough to me”. I do not really have concrete problems with his actions but among his tools of goals the ratio of interest-motivation (including holding his office, achieving his objects) does not correspond with my own value judgement. In the last few months he was befallen by so unmerited attacks from so contemptible people, so for now I had tended to judge him and his actions on a larger scale. I am doing it in spite of the fact that he is far not so successful and prepared in application of the tactics of „attack is the best defense” (what he attaches great value to) as he was in his usual public actions in the above mentioned years as a politician who is sure of himself and destined for creation. Among the young politicians Gábor Demszky is one of the few to me who (though with many mistakes and often spiced with a lot of naivity) really stood up against the – barely perceptible – totalitarism of the Kádár-regime. Really because of his political opinion was he sent down from the university, where he was admitted before on the basis of his knowledge. Then he was prohibited on publishing and convicted because of his writings! I am certainly watching today’s „loud” bourgeois and national politicians who formed at most the reform wing of the KISZ or the MSZMP (depending on their age). They could publish any of their writings and they did it. This way now I think that his positive public abilities and actions significantly surpass his hardly perceptible minor mistakes coming from human flimsiness.

János Palotás

09.12.1999.