AFP: Hungary opposition wins Budapest in blow for PM Orban: partial results14 October 2019 | 02:38 | FOCUS News Agency
With around 89 per cent of votes counted, centre-left challenger Gergely Karacsony led by around 50 per cent of the vote ahead of the incumbent mayor Istvan Tarlos on around 45 per cent.
In office since 2010, Tarlos, backed by Orban's right-wing Fidesz party, congratulated the 44-year-old challenger by telephone, a spokesperson for Karacsony, told AFP.
"The government respects the decision of Budapest's citizens," a government spokesman told local media.
Karacsony had compared the Budapest race to the Istanbul mayoral election in March, in which the candidate of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party was defeated by the opposition challenger.
The nationwide municipal elections were seen as a rare chance for the beleaguered opposition to roll back the power of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Opposition parties across the political spectrum had joined forces to wrest control of Budapest and deny Orban's party landslide wins nationwide for the first time in almost a decade.
In many municipalities just one opposition challenger lined up against Fidesz, offering it a chance of competing under electoral rules changed Orban that reward the biggest party.
A swathe of larger cities outside the capital were also won by the unified opposition.
"This election proves that opposition cooperation works, the opposition reached its best result in years with the new strategy," said Andras Biro-Nagy, an analyst with Policy Solutions.
The elections were seen as a litmus test for the opposition's new strategy, which could offer a way to challenge Orban in the next general election in 2022.
"Budapest is the big prize, but the breakthrough in numerous provincial cities is at least as important," said Biro-Nagy.
"It is the first crack in the Orban system, and it seems guaranteed that the strategy will continue for 2022," he said.
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