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Opposition outperforms in cities, Fidesz still strong in rural areas

Outside of Budapest, the governing Fidesz performed well in villages and smaller towns in local elections Sunday, while the opposition put on a strong showing in several county capitals. Embattled Győr Mayor Zsolt Borkai, despite being implicated in a sex and corruption scandal, managed to get narrowly reelected. 

Apart from taking control of Budapest, the opposition managed to get mayors elected in several county capitals. In Szeged, Hungaryʼs third biggest city, Socialist Mayor László Botka will begin his fifth term. Residents of Miskolc and Pécs also decided to vote opposition candidates into office, with Pál Veres and Attila Péterffy winning the vote, respectively. Opposition candidates also won in Eger, Salgótarján, Szombathely, and Tatabánya.

Fidesz managed to retain Debrecen, the countryʼs second largest city, through a comfortable win by incumbent László Papp. Government-backed candidates also managed to hold on to county capitals Békéscsaba, Nyíregyháza, Szolnok, Kecskemét, Szekszárd, Székesfehérvár, Veszprém, Kaposvár, and Zalaegerszeg.

In Győr, the scandal-ridden Fidesz Mayor Zsolt Borkai won by about 1.5 percentage points over opposition candidate Tímea Glázer. On Monday afternoon, it was reported that the coalition of opposition parties in Győr has initiated a recount of votes in the mayoral race, as well as of voting forms for councillors in several districts. Glázer noted that Borkai had won by just 641 votes, and that the number of spoiled ballots totaled 1,381.

Despite flipping several large cities, the opposition failed to achieve a majority on any county councils, which demonstrates the continuing popularity of the government in villages and smaller settlements, helped in no small way by its almost complete control of local press through the vast media conglomerate it established late last year.