Elections Hungary

Budapest mayor wins 2nd term by 41 votes

| 2024-06-17 2 min read

Budapest mayor wins 2nd term by 41 votes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony retained his post at last Sunday’s election, the Hungarian National Election Committee (NVB) confirmed on Friday evening after a recount of invalid votes.

Last weekend the Hungarian capital’s liberal incumbent mayor received 371,466 votes, just ahead of LMP-Greens candidate and transport expert David Vitezy’s 371,142. Vitezy called for a recount of the Budapest mayoral ballots due to some 22,000 invalid ballots.

According to the initial count, Vitezy had 47.49%, just behind the incumbent Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony with 47.52%.  A recount gave Vitezy an additional 395 valid votes, and 112 votes to Karacsony, putting him 41 votes ahead, NVB head Robert Sasvari explained. 

Despite his victory, Karacsony maintained his willing stance regarding holding a new election, saying “the whole process has been infinitely manipulative, full of political misleading, tricks, and wire-tapping.”

Referring to ruling party Fidesz’s candidate Alexandra Szentkiralyi, Karacsony wrote on Facebook that the recount was necessary due to “the strategy of a major mayoral candidate to withdraw 48 hours before the election and ask her supporters to vote for the alleged independent candidate was aimed at deceiving voters.”

He noted that the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) also condemned this practice. He said Fidesz had aimed to deceive the voters from the start, noting the “astonishing amount of money” spent on the Szentkiralyi and Vitezy campaigns.

Vitezy described the recount of invalid votes as “meticulous” and “justified” on Friday evening, but echoed Karacsony’s concerns about counting votes. He said he would be prepared to face the challenge of a new election but would accept the final official binding results. This decision by the NVB can be appealed at the Hungarian Supreme Court.

Candidates critique election process

For his part, Vitezy wrote on social media that “the result was practically a tie, the difference is 0.005%, 41 votes in total in Budapest. But as I have been saying since the beginning of the week, two more forensic procedures still have to be completed to ensure a legitimate election result.

“In light of the decision of the NVB, it is important to point out that the reprimanding and hysteria that Gergely Karacsony has made in the last two days was completely irresponsible and immoral. Dirty and lied, accused public officials of crimes, and insulted my voters only because he thought he would lose. I didn’t join in with this, and I won’t.

“It is difficult to see non-intentionality behind how these two districts handled the withdrawal of a candidate who stepped back from the ballots, and as a result, twice as many invalid votes were created (in two Budapest districts) as in other districts of Budapest,” Vitezy added.

Karacsony wrote that “The National Election Commission did not allow the opposition members to examine the alleged ‘evidence’ of the Vitezy team individually (and) at first glance it was obvious that in most cases prewritten printed papers were filled out by the election committee members delegated by Fidesz. 

“The integrity of the recount would only be ensured if the ballots arrived to the NVB unopened. Conversely, we know of a district where, on the instructions of the NVB, the ballots were opened locally… which resulted in voter deception,” Karacsony said. The incumbent mayor added that he will seek legal remedies and request a new election.