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The deadline for collecting voter recommendations to run for the 2019 municipal election expired on Monday. Only those who have succeeded in gathering the necessary number of recommendations (5,000 in Budapest) can see their name on the voting-papers as mayoral candidates. In the capital, a total of five people have been able to collect enough signatures, so they are the only ones eligible to run on October 13th. Update: Gyula Thürmer has failed to collect the required 5 thousand valid recommendation signatures, which means only four candidates will run for Budapest mayor.

István Tarlós

Photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

Incumbent Mayor István Tarlós first entered politics during the regime change in 1989 by becoming a member of the anti-communist Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). One year later, supported by SZDSZ and Fidesz, he became Budapest District III (Óbuda-Békásmegyer) Mayor.

Tarlós left the free democrats due to moral and ideological differences in 1994 after the party formed a coalition with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).  The first time István Tarlós became a Budapest Mayoral candidate was in 2006 when supported by Fidesz, where he lost by only 1% against incumbent mayor Gábor Demszky (SZDSZ).

In 2010, the still Fidesz supported (but on paper independent) candidate was elected as Budapest Mayor. Tarlós was re-elected mayor for a second term (due to changes in regulations is up to five years) in the 2014 election. Being more popular in Budapest than Fidesz, Tarlós has a good chance to win his third term in October.

Gergely Karácsony

Photo: Zoltán Balogh/MTI

Gergely Karácsony has been the mayor of District XIV (Zugló) for the past five years, and MSZP’s candidate for prime minister in the 2018 parliamentary elections. He is also the co-chair of Párbeszéd party.

Primarily a political scientist, Karácsony came closer to politics in practice during the Gyurcsány government, as an adviser to Gábor Horn (SZDSZ), the state secretary of the then Prime Minister’s Office. He later took part in the organizing of the newly formed green LMP party in 2009 and became a Member of Parliament in 2010.

In 2013, the LMP’s congress rejected cooperation with some leftist parties’ members of LMP’s “Dialogue for Hungary” platform, including Karácsony, who announced their decision to leave the opposition party and form a new organization under the same name (Párbeszéd Magyarországért means “Dialogue for Hungary”).

Gergely Karácsony has also won two pre-selection processes organized by opposition parties in an attempt to guarantee that the most popular joint candidate will enter against Tarlós in the Budapest local election. According to recent surveys of the opposition candidates, he has the best chance to defeat István Tarlós.

Róbert Puzsér

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Róbert Puzsér is an independent publicist, columnist, social critic, and television host mostly known for his highly opinionated comments, and harsh debate style.

In 2018, he announced to run for Budapest Mayor with his „Walking Budapest program”. In December 2018, green opposition LMP revealed it would support him to become the next Budapest mayor. In March 2019, nationalist Jobbik also stood behind the publicist. Later, however, LMP backed away from Puzsér after he had decided to quit his agreement about joining the pre-selection process. Then Puzsér decided to go fully independent, saying goodbye to Jobbik.

Krisztián Berki

Photo: Facebook/Krisztian Berki

Former unsuccessful football player and reality television personality Krisztián Berki, announced in July his intentions to run in the Budapest mayoral election. The celebrity is mostly known for his scandals and has also received a suspended jail sentence because of tax fraud in May. His new reality show started in September. It was a bit of a surprise how he managed to collect twice as many signatures as needed, considering neither he nor his supposed camp was hardly seen in Budapest streets.

Gyula Thürmer

Photo: János Vajda/MTI

Gyula Thürmer is a Hungarian communist politician and a former diplomat, who has been the chairman of the Hungarian Workers’ Party since its formation in 1989. The party couldn’t achieve any significant election results during its existence.

Update: Gyula Thürmer’s application to run for Budapest mayor has been recently rejected by the Budapest Election Committee as he had failed to collect the required 5 thousand valid recommendation signatures (collecting only 4,491).  This means not five but only four candidates are eligible to run for Budapest mayor on October 13th.

Featured photo by Noémi Bruzák/MTI