According to the new law, Budapest City Council will be composed of the city mayor, the 23 district mayors and nine representatives, who will be elected via the so-called extra votes, which are distributed among the different districts based on a complicated weighting system of the number of inhabitants in each district. The election of the city mayor will be by direct voting.
Another change concerning Budapest City Council is the introduction of the principle of the double majority. Basically it means that when the city council is voting, on one hand the majority of the votes is needed, namely 17 votes from the total 33 council members, on the other hand at least the votes of so many district mayors are needed that represent at least 50% plus one person of the total population of Budapest.
Another novelty at the autumn elections will be that both in Budapest and in other cities the mayor candidates will need fewer recommendations in order to stand for election. The modification can be traced back to a suggestion by LMP politician András Schiffer.
In cities with a population between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants the mayor candidates must have recommendations from at least 300 voters – previously the number was at least 2% of the local voters but at least 300.
In cities with a population over 100,000 inhabitants at least 500 recommendations per mayoral candidate are necessary – previously at least 2,000 recommendations were required in this case. In the case of municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants every citizen may stand for mayor if they have gathered recommendations from at least 3% of the local voters.
Mayor candidates have an easier job
A candidate standing for mayor of Budapest now only needs to collect 5,000 recommendations from the voters of the capital. This is an important relief: previously mayoral candidates had to collect recommendations from at least 2% of the Budapest voters – four years ago this number added up to more than 27,000 voters. To be able to put together a list in the local electoral circles the recommendations of at least 0.5% of voters of the constituency in question will be necessary.
Incompatibility rules loosen
The incompatibility rules, which impacted the mayors in communities with a population under 1,500 citizens, were also changed. In future, people will be allowed to fill certain positions in the mayor’s office if they are working in the local healthcare, educational system or any local social institution operated by the state. The relief of the incompatibility rules does not apply to the mayors of larger communities.
The changes around the local election system also bring about some technical novelties. The timeframe for collecting recommendations will be shortened to an eventual seven days. This means that candidates must be registered 34 days before the elections – previously registration was possible 27 days before.
Hungarian Socialist Party MP Ágnes Kunhalmi criticised the changes, saying governing parties Fidesz and KDNP modified the system because otherwise they do not have any chance to rule the capital.
Kunhalmi said another weakness of the new system is that it dilutes the common interests of the whole capital. Since in the future especially the district mayors will be represented in the city council, the specific interests of districts would be in the foreground. “The mayors of districts will be tempted to primarily represent the interests of their own district,” she said.