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Hungary’s supreme court has upheld the decision of the National Election Office, “meaning that I will remain Budapest’s mayor for the next five years”, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said. Karácsony submitted a request to the top court himself for the results of the local election to be annulled, after a recount of invalid votes narrowed his lead over his challenger, Dávid Vitézy, to 41 votes. “Of course, I accept the decision of the independent Hungarian court,” he said on Facebook. Karácsony said he had petitioned for a repeat election due to lack of transparency in the election process. “The binding decision of the Kúria has now closed that argument. I am, of course, not resigning from the mayoralty, the ones who should resign are the people who tried to mislead Budapest citizens and were unable to even organise a proper recount,” he said. “While I’m not accusing anyone of election fraud, it is remarkable that Fidesz-led districts found nearly two-and-a-half times as many new Vitézy ballots as opposition districts,” he said. The recount came after an election campaign in which Karácsony accused Fidesz of having attempted to sway the ballot numerous times. “They started by putting local and European parliamentary elections on the same day to confuse voters. Then they changed rules of the election of the Budapest Assembly at the last minute,” he said. Also, Fidesz’s candidate, Alexandra Szentkirályi, stepped back and endorsed Dávid Vitézy at the last moment, he said.
Meanwhile, Vitézy, who ran in the June 9 ballot as a candidate of LMP-Greens and the With Vitézy for Budapest association, said in response that “I congratulate Gergely Karácsony on the supreme court’s decision to reject his petition”. “After the court’s rejection of his petition, perhaps no one has ever celebrated the independent Hungarian courts in a manner he [Karácsony] is doing now,” Vitézy said on Facebook. He noted that Hungary’s law on election procedures ensures both him and Karácsony the option of lodging a constitutional complaint. Vitézy called the incumbent mayor’s recent “running amok” around the ballot “quite concerning” from the point of view of the city. “By demanding a repeat election for mayor, Karácsony has ruined his own legitimacy,” he added. Instead of defending “the republic of Budapest”, Karácsony had proved again that his own political survival was more important to him than any democratic principle, “more important than the city itself”, said Vitézy.