Hungary Starts Full Recount in Knife-Edge Budapest Mayoral Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Hungary started a full recount in the Budapest mayoral election a month after the liberal incumbent won by the thinnest of margins against a candidate endorsed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling party.

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Officials began on Tuesday the recount of more than 700,000 valid ballots cast in the June 9 vote, with the result expected to be announced on Friday. The decision to back a new tally came after top court decisions on the matter last week.

A recount of invalid votes earlier had narrowed the result further, to a difference of less than 0.01%, though still showing Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony ahead by 41 votes. His opponent is David Vitezy, a transportation expert who has served in the Orban government.

Orban sought to wrest control of liberal-leaning Budapest, which was the biggest prize in nationwide local elections last month. While the premier’s Fidesz party finished first overall, the upstart politician Peter Magyar’s outperformance overshadowed it, with his Tisza party tying Fidesz in the Budapest assembly and coming in a close second in many Fidesz strongholds in the countryside.

In the Budapest mayoral vote, the last-minute withdrawal of Fidesz’s own candidate and its decision to endorse Vitezy — who had been backed by another party — created confusion that led to a spike in invalid votes, since ballot papers had already been printed by then.

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