Mayor of Budapest

Last updated
Mayor of Budapest
Budapest (fő)polgármestere
Coa Hungary Town Budapest big.svg
Karacsony Gergely - portrait.jpg
Gergely Karácsony

since 13 October 2019
Residence Budapest City Hall
Term length Five years (since 2014)
Inaugural holder Károly Kamermayer
Formation4 November 1873
Salary62,431 USD Annually [1]

The Mayor of Budapest (Hungarian : Budapest főpolgármestere) is the head of the General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary, elected directly for 5-year term since 2014 (previously municipal elections were held quadrennially). Until 1994 the mayor was elected by the General Assembly. The office was called Chairman of the Council of Budapest (Hungarian : Budapest tanácselnöke) between 1950 and 1990, during the Communist period.


Since 1990, the position is domestically known as Lord Mayor (Hungarian : főpolgármester) to distinguish the office from that of the mayors that lead each of Budapest's 23 districts. Between 1873 and 1945, the Lord Mayor of Budapest was representative of the Hungarian government as head of the capital's municipal authority, similarly to the Lord-Lieutenants of Counties.



The newly elected 400-member General Assembly of Budapest held its inaugural session on 25 October 1873, as a major step in the unification process of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank of the river Danube. The assembly elected the first Lord Mayor among the three candidates nominated by countersignature of King Francis Joseph I after consultations with the Ministry of the Interior. On 30 October 1873, four candidates selected by an election commission headed by Lord Mayor Károly Ráth for the position of Mayor. According to the city unification law (Statute XXXVI of 1872), the Mayor of Budapest was head of the local government, while the Lord Mayor became representative of the executive branch (the government) to establishing a two-tier local government system in Budapest. On 4 November 1873, Károly Kamermayer was elected the first Mayor of Budapest, obtaining 297 votes of the total of 348 votes.

The mayor, the two deputy mayors and the other senior officials were elected for a term of six years by a simple majority of General Assembly. The Law on classification of civil servants (Statute I of 1883) required legal and political science graduate from the office-holder. Consequently, the position was rather administrative than political position during the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Until 1945, the majority of the mayors were civil servants who were passing through the promotion ladder during their careers. The mayor also served as head of the executive council which prepared and presented cases to the General Assembly, and was responsible for financial and property management too. As Chairman of the General Assembly, the Mayor of Budapest also substituted the Lord Mayor in case of obstacles. A lot of administrative scope concentrated in the hands of the mayor (civil registration of births, marriages, citizenship naturalization, authorisation of water management etc.). Thus the administrative system of Budapest was often called as "water-headed". By 1899 some corrections were made: few minor administrative cases assigned to lower-ranking committees and councils. The mayor could exert significant influence through the appointment of the administrative staff, which also depended on the mayor's personality and habit. For instance, Mayor István Bárczy personally directed the affairs of Budapest in practice, while the council meetings gradually became formal.

Interwar period and aftermath

During the dual monarchy, Budapest had much greater autonomy than other towns in countryside, thus the Lord Mayor had much less jurisdiction than Ispáns (or Lord Lieutenants) of the counties. It was because of the restricted suffrage and virilism which secured wide room for maneuver for the upper middle class and the elite senior administrative bureaucracy. This tendency had crucially been changed after the defeat in World War I and the outbreak of the Aster Revolution on 31 October 1918. Budapest became the main scene of revolutionary activity. Following the formation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in March 1919, Mayor Tivadar Bódy was deposed and the Communist regime set up an Executive Committee to administer the capital city. After the collapse of the Soviet Republic, Admiral Miklós Horthy entered Budapest at the head of the National Army on 16 November 1919. He was greeted by the recurrent Bódy and other city officials in front of the Hotel Gellért. In a fiery speech horthy accused the capital's citizens of betraying Hungary by supporting Bolshevism. On the other hand, after the abolishment of virilism and expansion of suffrage in 1920, a party-based political system has evolved in the General Assembly of Budapest, which became more democratic and liberal than other parts of Hungary.

This phenomenon has caused several jurisdictional conflicts between the Hungarian government and the General Assembly of Budapest during the era of Prime Minister István Bethlen in the 1920s. Both 1920 and 1924 municipal laws sought to limit the capital's autonomy. The most important manifestation of this intention was the expansion of the Lord Mayor's powers, who could initiate the dissolution of the General Assembly after the adoptation of that laws. On 1 April 1920, Jenő Sipőcz was appointed Government Commissioner, outranking Mayor Tivadar Bódy. Bethlen's Unity Party was also trying to extend its influence over Károly Wolff's Christian Municipal Party which gained an absolute majority in the 1920 local election in Budapest. The United Municipal Civic Party was founded in 1924 in order to offset Wolff's influence. In practise the party functioned as the Budapest branch of the governing Unity Party.

The Statute XVIII of 1930 completely reorganized Budapest's administrative structure in the spirit of centralization. 32 life members were elected to the General Assembly by an caucus appointed by the Lord Mayor, the government's representative. The government of Gyula Gömbös launched a new offensive against the General Assembly. After the adoptation of the Statute XII of 1934, the election result of the position of the Mayor and his two deputies had to be confirmed by the head of state, Regent Miklós Horthy.

Mayors of Budapest (1873–present)

Term of officePolitical party
(political coalition)
Mayors of Budapest (1873–1950)
1 Kamermayer-Karoly.jpg Károly Kamermayer
4 November 187325 November 1896 Independent
2 Markus Jozsef 1896-48.jpg József Márkus
25 November 189625 October 1897 Independent
3 Halmos Janos Erdelyi (crop).jpg János Halmos
8 November 189717 February 1906 Independent
4 Barczy Istvan 1936.jpg István Bárczy
19 June 190610 April 1918 Independent
5 Body Tivadar Erdelyi 1918 (crop).png Tivadar Bódy
10 April 191824 March 1919 Independent
Budapest was governed by an Executive Committee during the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Harrer Ferenc.JPEG Ferenc Harrer
contested by Tivadar Bódy
1 August 19196 August 1919 Independent
(5) Body Tivadar Erdelyi 1918 (crop).png Tivadar Bódy
7 August 19191 September 1920 Independent
6 Sipocz Jeno.jpg Jenő Sipőcz
1 September 192028 November 1934 Independent
7 Szendy Karoly.jpg Károly Szendy
14 December 193430 April 1944 Independent
8 Farkas Akos.jpg Ákos Farkas
19 May 194423 December 1944 NYKP-HM
Collapse of the local government during the Siege of Budapest
9 Csorba Janos polgarmester.jpg János Csorba
19 January 194516 May 1945 FKGP
10 Vas Zoltan 1948.jpg Zoltán Vas
16 May 194528 November 1945 MKP
11 Kovago Jozsef (crop).jpg József Kővágó
acting until 14 December
28 November 19455 June 1947 FKGP
12 Coat of arms of Hungary (1946-1949, 1956-1957).svg József Bognár
18 July 194720 June 1949 FKGP
13 Pongracz Kalman 1979.JPG Kálmán Pongrácz
20 July 194915 June 1950 MDP
Chairmen of the Council of Budapest (1950–1990)
(13) Pongracz Kalman 1979.JPG Kálmán Pongrácz
acting until 3 November
15 June 195031 October 1956 MDP/MSZMP
(11) Kovago Jozsef (crop).jpg József Kővágó [2]
31 October 19564 November 1956 FKGP
(13) Pongracz Kalman 1979.JPG Kálmán Pongrácz
4 November 195616 November 1958 MSZMP
14 Coat of arms of Hungary (1957-1990).svg József Veres
12 December 195811 March 1963 MSZMP
15 Sarlos Istvan (crop).jpg István Sarlós
11 March 19631 December 1970 MSZMP
Coat of arms of Hungary (1957-1990).svg Lajos Kelemen
1 December 19707 May 1971 MSZMP
16 Szepvolgyi Zoltan budapesti tanacselnok 1976-04-04.jpg Zoltán Szépvölgyi
7 May 197117 December 1986 MSZMP
17 Ivanyi Pal 1984.jpg Pál Iványi
1 January 198720 December 1988 MSZMP
18 Coat of arms of Hungary (1957-1990).svg József Bielek
10 February 198918 September 1990 MSZMP
(Lord) Mayors of Budapest since 1990
19 Demszky Gabor.jpg Gábor Demszky
31 October 19903 October 2010 SZDSZ
20 TarlosIstvan (crop).jpg István Tarlós
3 October 2010 13 October 2019 Fidesz
21 Karacsony Gergely - portrait.jpg Gergely Karácsony
13 October 2019 Incumbent Dialogue


  2. Lendvai, Paul (2008). One Day That Shook the Communist World: The 1956 Hungarian Uprising and Its Legacy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP.

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