March 24, 2011
While national Fidesz, the strongest governing party in Europe, is taking an effort to finish a new constitution for Hungary, its municipal group in Budapest has different ambitions. The party has won over the city council for the first time in October 2010 and it is busy re-arranging the streetmap. Elvis Presley will be declared a hero of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and a major square will be named after him. Elvis is officially assumed to be dead in Budapest at least since 1986 – a contentious claim in itself for some of his fans.
István Tarlós, the mayor of Budapest has announced that a major square will be named after Elvis Presley, and called for an internet vote to find the suitable place. He also announced that in honour of the King’s call for the support of Hungarian refugees in Ed Sullivan show after the 1956 uprising the municipal council will elect him an honorary citizen of Budapest. The posthumous [!] title will be awarded, apparently, without any proof from a coroner, as he is supposed to be dead for at least 25 year – a legal pre-requisite to name a public place after a natural person in the grateful city.
The council has called Budapest citizens to find a suitable junction to be named Elvis Presley Square, but did not agree with the verdict of the people. Although the internet voters wanted to name the square by the Buda side of Margit bridge, Elvis Presley Square will be another junction in the Pest side.
This is only the start of a broader street-map alignment. The most frequented square on the Buda side, Moszkva tér will have to get rid of the name of Moscow, to be replaced by Kálmán Széll, who also lends his name to the current government ‘structural reform program’. Széll was a prime minister in the Hungarian Kingdom and the square was named after him before WWII for a relatively long period. István Tarlós does not want to hurt the feelings of the Russian people, and he is quarrelling with the 2nd district to find a more modest square to be named after Moscow (not excluding a permit to build anorthodox chapel, should somebody volunteer to foot the bill, as religious Russians are much preferred to atheist-communist Russians).
Roosevelt Square has to give way for Széchenyi Square, whose epic attribute is ‘the greatest Hungarian’. The great American president will have to move to Liberty Square, which is also where the American embassy is located. (Liberty has a number of smaller squares in the city, so it will not be missing from the street-map, but it will be less prominent).
The Budapest council has been rather peaceful in implementing these changes, however, changing the name of the international airport was a bit more tougher affair that was eventually settled as an amendment to the Act on Modifying Energy related laws. Hungary commemorates the 200th birthday of another great Hungarian, Ferenc (not Franz) Liszt. A lot of people do not identify him these days with Hungary, so the Budapest’s busy international airport will be named after him.
As the Eastern Approaches blog from the Economist cuts the story short (Exterminate! Exterminate!) the joint committee of the ministries and geographic society had to be abolished because it had a slightly negative opinion, and dared to suggest that Budapest, Ferenc, Liszt is already three names in the Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport name, so possibly Liszt Ferenc or the current Ferihegy (easier than it seems, ‘gy’ stands for ‘d’ in the English ‘duke’, ‘fair-e-had’ – the actual name of the place) would be better. In an awkward press release one of the ministries explained that it would be even better if people paid by the government would agree with it.
If you’re planning a trip to Budapest in the summer, it is highly advisable to buy a 2011 edition of the street-map on Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport. You may loose your way if you go for a discounted 2010 edition.
Author : Dániel Antal