Tuesday, 28.01.20 - Premier Kultcafé

Participatory democracy, local politics, feminism

These are just some of the interesting topics on the occasion of the first event of the Film Club series Women and Social Movements, which took place on 28th January. After the screening of the film Ada for Mayor! with the participation of C8, the participants could listen to an interesting conversation.

The three-part Film Club is a joint project of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Közélet Iskolája (School of Public Life), focussing on the role of women and gender equality through films dealing with different social movements.

The documentary film by Pau Faus from 2016, presented as a prelude to the series, takes a look behind the scenes of the ten-month election campaign before the election of the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. As an activist, Colau first became a key figure in the Barcelona mortgage victims' movement, and later she was elected candidate for mayor of the Barcelona en Comú coalition. At that time, no one would have thought that she would have a chance of winning the title of mayor of Barcelona as a representative of the civil society and as a woman.

As a result of a citizens' initiative similar to the Spanish example, the organisation C8 - Civilek Józsefvárosért (Civilian Citizens for Józsefváros) had also conducted a successful election campaign in the eighth district of Budapest, with the result that András Pikó won the local elections. The guests invited to the discussion following the film were activists of C8, who during the extraordinary evaluation of the election campaign reviewed the most important moments, dilemmas, difficulties and successes after the film.

In the course of the local elections in Budapest, it quickly became clear that no party insisted on putting forward its own candidates; everyone wanted to nominate candidates from the  civil society. In connection with the nomination of András Pikó for mayor, some of C8's conditions (such as the person of the election campaign leader) led to serious disputes but in the end the parties were able to reach an agreement, and as a result, C8 took over the entire election campaign. Thus, the work, which is independent by nature, could begin.

Despite its NGO character, the election campaign was characterised by professionalism: work was done according to plan, with experts and data. The aim of the election campaign "I<3 NYolc" ("I <3 Eight)" was to abolish the old stigma that still stands for the eighth district and to give the district a new, lovable face, so that the inhabitants of Józsefváros could be proud of their district, where it is worth living.

András Pikó mentioned that they did not want to enter politics from a defensive position but with an emphasis on their values, because - as he said - with his past it cannot be concealed that he helps homeless people, that he was at the Keleti railway station in 2015, and that he is a liberal journalist. Thus from the beginning it was important that they emphasize that as civil society actors they will pursue and mobilize a tough policy, because that is the only way they can win. They have tried to combine local problems with general ones and to make people understand: "If you have a problem with the NER (National System of Cooperation), start with the municipality". A rock bottom in the election campaign was reached when the organisation had a house raid; but instead of destroying it, the action gave the organisation a boost and the activists became even more active. He then began to systematically walk through the district, knocking on people's doors and introducing himself to them. Pikó said that they have won the election campaign because nobody else had talked to the people in the district as representatives of civil society like he did.

Tessza Udvarhelyi, András Pikó's campaign manager (and also a founding member of Közélet Iskolája) reflected on the film and emphasized the role of women who not only worked but also made decisions during the election campaign. C8 is anyway characterized by a kind of "natural feminism", which is shown on the one hand in the fact that women and men performed equally caring tasks and made decisions, and on the other hand competent women who took initiatives naturally got the leeway from men and were recognized by them.

In the campaign staff, three key positions: that of the campaign chief, the head of communications and the recruitment coordinator were held by women. At the same time he thinks that the political glass ceiling is still there in the mayor's office.

At the end of the discussion the participants talked about the future of C8. Pikó said that the organisation would face an institutional crisis as it is already on the political stage, while it should be essential to preserve external values. Finally, András Pikó and Tessza Udvarhelyi emphasized the importance of participatory democracy, and that the opening of the community, generally understandable information and availability in Józsefváros will be the basic minimum.

On the occasion of the next event of the Film Club Women and Social Movements, the film "That changes everything" will be screened on 18 February.

You can find more informations (in Hungarian) about the movie screening at the following link.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Budapest

Office Address:

Fővám tér 2-3
H-1056 Budapest

+36-1-461-60-11
+36-1-461-60-18

fesbp(at)fesbp.hu

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