Hungary: In surprise move, left-liberal mayor who won election in Budapest by razor-thin margin now wants another election

Concerns over election fraud in Budapest mean another election battle could be looming

(MTI/Péter Lakatos)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

In a surprise move, incumbent Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony, who won the race for a second term against his conservative challenger Dávid Vitézy with the narrowest of margins after a vote recount, has now asked the country’s top court for a repeat of the election.

At the June 9 municipal elections, Karácsony beat Vitézy by 324 out of 781,547 votes cast. Vitézy then asked for a recount after a large number of votes were deemed invalid in 20 constituencies. After this second tally, Karácsony was declared the winner with an even slimmer margin of just 41 votes.

“As I promised, today I submitted a motion to the Curia asking for the annulment of the result of the election of the Lord Mayor and for the repetition of the vote in the whole city. It is as unusual, I know, for a politician to keep his word, as it is for a politician to ask for a rerun of an election he has won,” Karácsony wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

“I also know that many people are tired of this long election campaign, but the democratic legitimacy of an election should not depend on who won and who lost — certainly not in the Republic of Budapest.”

“I am not objecting to the fact of the recount. It is good to double-check that you are sure you have counted correctly when the result is close. However, the recount of invalid ballots revealed that in nearly half of the polling stations in Budapest, there was no guarantee that the ballot papers would arrive for the recount in the same condition as they had been sealed by the counting committee on election night. In several districts, members of the local electoral commission were not present at the opening of the ballot boxes,” Karácsony wrote.

“Guarantees to prevent electoral fraud are the most important safeguards of a democracy. And I have a responsibility to act to protect these guarantees,” he concluded the post.

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