Proposal abstract

Hungary has been characterized by an increasingly authoritarian political regime and a highly restrictive and oppressive social environment since 2010. With the reelection of Fidesz for the fourth time in the spring of 2022, there seems to be little chance for a breakthrough for progressive forces at the national level. However, in 2019 there was an opening in political opportunities at the local level when many progressive candidates and organizations made important gains in the local elections, especially in Budapest and other bigger cities. The trainings of the School of Public Life and the community-based, municipalist electoral campaign methodology that we have developed proved essential for many of the winning candidates. With the help of this grant, we would like to continue this work and organize a series of trainings in community-based municipal campaigning for progressive grassroots candidates and supporting organizations in preparation for the 2024 local elections.

Who we are

The School of Public Life is a grassroots education center in Budapest founded in 2014. Our aim is to 1) make the knowledge and skills for grassroots organizing available to everyone, especially those who experience or fight oppression through education and publications, 2) support movements and civil society organizations that work for social justice to operate more effectively 3) encourage grassroots groups and local organizations to engage with the elections, support them in running community-based campaigns and support citizens who organize for clean and fair elections and 4) build a diverse community of engaged people and organizations where critical thinking, democratic participation and solidarity are highly valued. We organize free training courses for adults, support progressive organizations with strategic planning, publish books and educational materials and organize and mentor participatory action research projects. Every year we have around 600 participants and cooperate with up to 120 organizations.

What we want to do and how we will do it

The School of Public Life has been instrumental in supporting grassroots organizations since 2017 to understand and use (local) politics as a platform for advocacy and to get involved in electoral processes in various ways from holding candidates accountable through monitoring elections to running their own candidates. We have developed our own model of community-based electoral campaigning based on both European municipalist practices and progressive US campaigns. We have organized numerous training courses, workshops and discussions for the 2018 national elections, the 2019 local elections and the 2022 national elections and we have also published and disseminated many educations materials including books and films. In 2019, our efforts resulted in a number of community-based and municipalist-minded candidates elected for office. With the help of this grant, we would like to continue this work and organize a series of trainings in community-based municipal campaigning for progressive grassroots candidates and supporting organizations to help them in their reelection efforts as well as to help new organizations and candidates to enter the arena of municipal politics in the 2024 local elections. The grant will cover the expenses of one training in the spring of 2023. The training will have maximum 25 participants from 10 different organizations that intend to get involved in the 2024 local elections. Two representatives are encouraged to attend from each organization. The primary target group are grassroots organization running their own candidates for elected office, but progressive political parties and organizations using the elections for advocacy will also be welcome. The training will take place in Budapest and it will be free to attend. Participants will receive room and board free of charge. The main outcome of the training will be 10 organizations in 10 different municipalities trained in the municipalist approach to social change and community-based campaigning.

How much money do we need and what for?

The training will be held by two trainers who have extensive experience in electoral campaigning and community organizing. trainer’s fee 1: 400 EUR trainer’s fee 2: 400 EUR catering and lunch for participants and training (2 days): 350 EUR accommodation for participants from outside of Budapest (1 night): 250 EUR venue rental for two days: 400 EUR miscellaneous (promotion, printing etc.): 150 EUR Total: 1950

Why / How does it contribute to /reflects the municipalism principles

Our involvement in municipalism goes back to 2017 when we supported the campaign of a progressive grassroots candidate in a local byelection in Budapest. After this experience, we attended the Barcelona Fearless Cities conference to learn more about municipalism. Based on these experiences and research into the campaigns of progressive US candidates, we have developed a model for community-based campaigning adapted to the Hungarian context. Since then, we have published a booklet on community-based campaigning, helped several winning candidates in local elections and started the Our Common City conference series, which we organized in 2019 and 2022 and will organize in 2023. While there is no self-defined municipalist movement in Hungary, there is a huge need for new political leaders rooted in progressive local communities and committed to environmental justice, anti-racism, feminism, solidarity and participatory democracy and local elections are a good entrance for the formation of these new leaders.