Gergely Szilveszter Karácsony ([ˈkɒrɑ̈ːt͡ʃoɲ ˌɡerɡej ˌsilvɛstɛr) (born 11 June 1975) is a Hungarian political scientist, politician, member of the National Assembly (MP) from 2010 to 2014 and current Mayor of Budapest. He was elected Mayor of Zugló in 2014.
|Mayor of Budapest|
|Assumed office |
13 October 2019
|Preceded by||István Tarlós|
|Mayor of Zugló|
District XIV, Budapest
12 October 2014 – 13 October 2019
|Preceded by||Ferenc Papcsák|
|Succeeded by||Csaba Horváth|
|Member of the National Assembly|
14 May 2010 – 5 May 2014
|Born||11 June 1975|
|Political party||LMP (2009–2013)|
|Profession||political scientist, politician|
Karácsony worked for the Medián market and public opinion research company as a research manager. He became Director of Research in 2007. In addition to that, he worked as a lecturer at the Corvinus University of Budapest from 2004. He became a member of the newly formed Politics Can Be Different (LMP) party in 2009. During the 2010 parliamentary election he served as campaign manager of the party. He became a Member of Parliament from the Budapest regional list (3rd place). In May 2010 he was elected deputy leader of the LMP parliamentary fraction. As a result he left the Medián firm.
He was the party's candidate at the Budapest District II by-election in November 2011. He came third with 6.45 percent after Zsolt Láng (Fidesz) and Katalin Lévai (MSZP). Both MSZP and LMP agreed that the candidate who received fewer votes would withdraw in favour of the stronger one, however Karácsony also participated in the run-off.
In January 2013, the LMP's congress rejected electoral cooperation with other opposition forces, including Together 2014. As a result members of LMP's "Dialogue for Hungary" platform, including Karácsony, announced their decision to leave the opposition party and form a new organisation. Benedek Jávor, leader of the "Dialogue for Hungary" platform, said the eight MPs leaving LMP would keep their parliamentary mandates. The leaving MPs established Dialogue for Hungary (also known as PM, Párbeszéd Magyarországért) as a full-fledged party.
In June 2014, Karácsony was elected co-chair of Dialogue for Hungary (PM) alongside Tímea Szabó, when his predecessor Jávor became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the 2014 European Parliament election. Karácsony won the mayoral election in Zugló during the 2014 local elections as a joint candidate of the Hungarian Socialist Party, Democratic Coalition, and the Together 2014–Dialogue for Hungary alliance. According to the new rules, he also became a member of the General Assembly of Budapest.
In April 2017, Karácsony was re-elected co-leader of the Dialogue for Hungary and was also appointed as his party's candidate for the position of prime minister in the 2018 parliamentary election. The Hungarian Socialist Party also elected Karácsony as their candidate for the position of prime minister in December 2017. The two parties also decided to jointly contest the 2018 national election. Consequently, Together have terminated their cooperation agreement with the Dialogue for Hungary. Under the leadership of Karácsony, the MSZP–PM joint list received 11.91% and came only third after Fidesz and Jobbik.
In June 2019, in the opposition's first primary election, he was elected as the opposition (MSZP-P-DK-Momentum-LMP-MLP)'s candidate. While Jobbik did not endorse Karácsony outright, the party opted not to run a candidate against him. This left Karácsony as the sole opposition candidate for the position of Lord Mayor of Budapest in the 2019 local elections, against incumbent Lord Mayor István Tarlós, who was supported by the ruling coalition, Fidesz–KDNP. He then went on to win the election on 13 October 2019 with 50.86% of the votes being cast in his favor, with Tarlós receiving 44.10%.
On Karácsony's initiative, the mayors of the capitals of all four Visegrád Group countries signed the Pact of Free Cities in Budapest in December 2019. The pact promotes "common values of freedom, human dignity, democracy, equality, rule of law, social justice, tolerance and cultural diversity".
He gained international popularity in 2021, when he renamed four streets in Budapest to "Free Hong Kong Street", "Uyghur Martyrs Street", "Dalai Lama Street" and "Bishop Xie Shiguang Street" in protest of the Hungarian government's choice to open a branch of the Fudan University in Budapest, which in 2019 changed its statute, removing the phrase "academic independence and freedom of thought" and including "commitment to follow the leadership of the Communist Party", thus being considered by Karacsony and the thousands of Hungarian citizens who protested against the opening of the Chinese university as a sign of an excessive expansion of Chinese influence in Hungary.
In May 2021, six opposition parties formed a coalition against Fidesz and Viktor Orbán in the 2022 national elections. Karácsony announced that he would be the prime ministerial candidate of three parties, PM, MSZP and LMP in the 2021 primary elections.
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