Budapest mayoral candidates running neck and neck

István Tarlós, the pro-government mayor of Budapest and opposition candidate Gergely Karácsony are in a virtual deadlock ahead of the Hungarian capital’s mayoral election, set to take place on October 13, the latest polls show.

Among those Budapest voters intending to take part in the election who have already made their choice, 48 per cent say they will support Mr Tarlós while 47 per cent would cast their vote for his opposition rival. Róbert Puzsér, a journalist-turned-politician and independent candidate is polling at five per cent, a recent survey conducted by Hungarian pollster Medián has found.

Supported by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, Mr Tarlós is seeking a third consecutive term as Budapest mayor while Mr Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest’s Zugló district and a former green-socialist candidate for prime minister, is running on the ticket of all major opposition parties.

Another poll, by Hungary’s Publicus Institute, came to a similar finding: both Mr Tarlós and Mr Karácsony are supported by 48 per cent, while four per cent would vote for Mr Puzsér.

The Publicus survey also found that Mr Karácsony was more popular among educated and inner city voters.

The Hungarian media has pointed out that earlier surveys carried out by close-to-government pollsters such as the Nézőpont Institute and the Századvég Institute expect an at least two-digit difference in support for the candidates – in favour of Mr Tarlós.

While the ruling Fidesz party is poised to win in the vast majority of smaller cities and villages, six opposition parties – the socialist-liberal Democratic Coalition, the Hungarian Socialist Party, the green-leftist Dialogue, the liberal Momentum party, the radical right-turned-conservative Jobbik party and the Hungarian Greens – have joined forces with joint candidates for mayor and city councillors in the country’s bigger cities.