Zoltán Kész, President of the Free Market Foundation and Civic Platform, and 4liberty.eu network member, won by a great margin the by-election held in the West-Hungarian town of Veszprém on 22 February, 2015. The election was necessary as Tibor Navracsics, the MP elected in this region, became the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
Zoltán Kész’s victory shattered the two third majority of governing party Fidesz in the parliament. Using this supermajority, the government has implemented a new constitution and new laws curtailing the freedom of speech, human rights and the power of the constitutional court since 2010. Hungary has also become fearfully friendly with Russia regardless of the growing tensions between the EU and Putin. Moreover, the Hungarian government turned very EU-sceptic.
Being a long-term advocate of liberty, democracy, tolerance and free market values, Zoltán Kész was supported by most democratic opposition parties except for the leftist green party LMP and the radically far right Jobbik. In his victory speech he stressed that although he and the supporting parties have many differences, all of them are working for the same fundamental values of democracy. He, however, also reconfirmed his previous intention to remain independent and not to sit in to any of the parliamentary fractions. In his campaign, he stressed that he is going to represent the people, and will vote in the parliament according to their wishes and not based on party politics.
His program differentiated between priorities for Veszprém and the villages in his constituency, and for the whole Hungary. Speaking of the politics on national level, Zoltán promised that Viktor Orbán, the incumbent Hungarian Prime minister, will not be elected president with a two third majority. Furthermore he argued for a countrywide movement for a fair taxation (meaning tax reductions). Finally, he promised to support establishment of an anti-corruption organization. The programme for the city of Veszprém was based on three policy priorities: fiscal policy based on tax reduction, housing policy being dealt locally and not controlled by the Hungarian government centrally and an investment policy bringing new jobs to Veszprém.
Being liberal and a free market advocate is not very popular in Hungary. The voters were so discontented with the current governing power that they wanted change and they cast their vote for Zoltán Kész by a huge margin. He got 42,66% while his opponent from Fidesz got only 33,64% of the votes. The participation was 44,76%, which is extremely high for a by-election.
The campaign run by Fidesz was very negative, calling Kész a left winger, a right winger and a free market fundamentalist sometimes even in the very same article. Lajos Némedi, Fidesz candidate, and also the vice-mayor of Veszprém, shied away from a direct debate with the leading opposition candidate. Némedi campaigned by promising a swimming pool for the town, getting a lot of financial support from the government and promising to repair a giant building block, something Fidesz promised 4 years ago and failed to do since. The state media and news outlets closely tied to Fidesz were highly biased against Zoltán Kész, fabricating lies about his personal life almost on daily basis. Also the leftist green party LMP was pursuing a hate campaign against Kész, and the leader of the party was seen at the same restaurant where the Fidesz activist and high ranking party official convened.
The official statistics: http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/idokozi_pv14/szavossz/hu/M19/E01/evkjkv.html
Zoltán Kész, born 1974 in Veszprem (Hungary), worked as a guest lecturer at ELTE University and he also taught history in the USA and English in Hungary. Besides teaching, he is also an entrepreneur and translator. Zoltán is founder (2011) and director of Free Market Foundation. The mission of Free Market Foundation is to represent, defend, and advance classical liberal values, ideas, and policies in Hungary and among speakers of the Hungarian language. FNF has co-organized and financially supported two large projects focused on fight against radicalism and racism.
Cooperation between FNF and Zoltán Kész begun in 2011, when he participated in FNF-ELF Think Tank School in Vilnius, where the best liberal think tanks were spreading know-how and best-practices towards newly established think tanks. Before that, Free Market Foundation was supported mainly through the Atlas Network. Through the Think Tank School, Free Market Foundation got closer ties towards European liberal think tanks. Free Market Foundation joined 4Liberty network as full member in 2013.
Zoltán Kész was among speakers of Promoting Tolerance Programme in 2012 in Budapest organized by FNF and AJC. Zoltán also became President at Civic Platform (NGO focusing on anti-racism issues and suffrage) in 2013. Accepting FNF invitation, Zoltán Kész is going to participate in IAF Seminar on Political Leadership in Gummersbach in March 2015.