Hungary opposition looks set to win Budapest mayoral race

Clay Curtis
October 14, 2019

"Budapest chose Gergely Karacsony today", Tarlos declared.

With 98 percent of ballot papers counted from Sunday's elections, Gergely Karácsony of the opposition had secured 51 percent of the vote, compared to 44 percent for the candidate from Orban's Fidesz party.

Opposition parties gained a majority in the Budapest assembly as well, and won mayoral seats in 10 major cities, while Fidesz won in 13 others.

Outside the capital tight races are also forecast in several now Fidesz-run cities like Miskolc, Pecs, and Szombathely, as well as in most of Budapest's 23 district municipalities.

Both men easily won re-election Sunday, although Orban said that on Monday he would reveal his position on Borkai, who could be seen participating in an orgy on a yacht and was also criticized for his business connections and alleged corruption.

Karacsony had compared the Budapest race to the Istanbul mayoral election in March, in which the candidate of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party was defeated by the opposition challenger.

The nationwide municipal elections were seen as a rare chance for the beleaguered opposition to roll back the power of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"This election proves that opposition cooperation works, the opposition reached its best result in years with the new strategy", political analyst Andras Biro-Nagy told Agence France-Presse news agency.

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Critics say some of those reforms helped Fidesz to rout opposition parties at parliamentary, European and local elections despite around half of the electorate often voting against it.

"It is the first crack in the Orban system, and it seems guaranteed that the strategy will continue for 2022", he said.

Opposition parties across the political spectrum have joined forces, potentially denying Orban's right-wing Fidesz party a landslide win for the first time in nearly a decade.

Fidesz has a two-thirds majority in parliament and could still curb municipal rights, making it hard for opposition mayors to achieve concrete results.

The election results are likely to give a boost to opposition parties.

"Budapest will be green and free, we will bring it back to Europe", he said.

Preliminary results showed Fidesz dominating in the countryside, where Orban's brand of Christian-conservative "illiberal democracy" remains popular.

"I think in many battleground cities this was the decisive factor in the last few days, and maybe in Budapest also", said Biro-Nagy. "We are readying now not for battle however for cooperative building".

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