Hungarian Conservative

Incumbent Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony Wins in Tightest Ever Race, But Dávid Vitézy Aims for Recount  

Gergely Karácsony during his press conference after the vote count was completed on 10 June 2024
Zoltán Máthé/MTI
After a Vitézy lead until after midnight, Karácsony overtook and the results at 4 a.m. showed the closest election in the history of the city. Karácsony ended up winning by as few as 324 votes.

By early Monday morning, the closest Budapest mayoral election result in history had been announced. Although Dávid Vitézy led for a long time, Gergely Karácsony ultimately won by 324 votes. The exact result is as follows: Gergely Karácsony: 47.53 per cent (371,467 votes);- Dávid Vitézy: 47.49 per cent (371,143 votes)

Vitézy held a press conference soon after Karácsony took the lead in the early hours of Monday. The candidate who was nominated by LMP and a civil society organization, and endorsed in the last minute by withdrawing Fidesz candidate Alexandra Szentkirályi, expressed: ‘This evening it will not be revealed who the mayor of Budapest will be,’ suggesting that the votes may need to be recounted, considering that Karácsony’s win was by such fine margins and the relatively large number of invalid votes cast.

Hungarian election law does not stipulate that votes must be recounted in the case of a narrow result or if there are a large number of invalid ballots.

If a candidate wins by even a single vote, the election committee announces the result without the need for a recount.

There is, however, the possibility of appealing this result. As summarized by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), a recount is only compulsory if an appeal’s adjudication cannot be made without recounting the votes, which means that the issue cannot be resolved otherwise. Essentially, a recount only occurs when administrative errors must be corrected or legal violations happened during the counting process. Therefore, errors in ballot distribution or any other legal violations during voting cannot be rectified through this method.

The election committee or a court can order a recount in proceedings challenging the election result. The recount can be full or partial, meaning that only specific ballots or those from particular polling stations might be recounted.

Another way to challenge the result is to file a complaint related to the activities and decisions of the vote-counting committee. This procedure targets errors or legal violations in the committee’s activities before the counting, such as open voting or issuing faulty ballots. In these cases, a recount is not an option. Rather, the election committee or court may annul part or all of the election process and order a new (partial or full) election.

Both types of

legal proceedings can be initiated by any party involved: by voters, candidates, and nominating organizations.

However, if the election committee rejects the request, only those affected by the alleged violation can appeal. This includes voters whose votes might have been influenced by the violation or candidates running in the relevant constituency. Thus, Dávid Vitézy could escalate the matter, but this would not be an automatic recount; it would occur only upon his specific request. Appeals could even reach the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court, which could indeed mean that the identity of the next mayor of Budapest remains uncertain for a long time.

It is already evident that an unusually high number of invalid votes, 24,595 were cast in the mayoral election. One reason for this could be that many voters still voted for Alexandra Szentkirályi, who withdrew after the ballots were printed, necessitating a manual crossing out of her name on each ballot. This solution might have confused many voters.

Related articles:

Fidesz Takes 11 EP Seats, Karácsony Wins the Mayoral Race in Budapest
Alexandra Szentkirályi Withdraws from Mayoral Race, Asks Voters to Support Vitézy
After a Vitézy lead until after midnight, Karácsony overtook and the results at 4 a.m. showed the closest election in the history of the city. Karácsony ended up winning by as few as 324 votes.