In a profound shift of Budapest's electoral landscape, Hungary's Mi Hazank party has tabled a proposal to transform the electoral law for the city's General Assembly. This radical reform seeks to replace the current system, where the assembly is constituted of district mayors, list-elected representatives, and the Budapest mayor, with a system that engages only party-list candidates. If passed, this sweeping change could be implemented as early as June 2024.
Political Maneuvering or Genuine Reform?
Democratic Coalition spokesperson, Olga Kalmán, casts a skeptical eye towards this proposed amendment. She suspects it as a stratagem by the ruling Fidesz party to soften their anticipated defeat in the forthcoming municipal elections. According to Kalmán, the opposition is poised to claim victory in Budapest next year. Consequently, the proposed change would necessitate opposition parties to consolidate into a joint list if they wish to nominate a collective candidate for mayor.
Incumbent Mayor's Stand
The Democratic Coalition is rallying support for the current mayor, Gergely Karacsony, with the aim of securing a majority in the assembly. Karacsony himself has previously lambasted the existing electoral system as unconstitutional and appealed to the President not to ratify the law back in 2014.
Public Sentiment and Electoral Dynamics
As per a September poll conducted by Median, the Fidesz-KDNP alliance enjoys the highest popularity in Budapest, with 25% support. They are closely followed by the Democratic Coalition with 11% and Momentum with 10%. The potential amendment would shift the electoral focus from individual politicians and their performance to party affiliations and logos.
Meanwhile, on the broader political stage, tensions between Budapest and Brussels are escalating. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, met with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest on 27 November 2023, in a bid to quell the growing discord. Orbán, however, continues to pose a formidable challenge to key European Union decisions, particularly on Ukraine, migration, judicial reform, and LGBTQ rights.