Home » Analyses

Halfway into the Hungarian electoral reform – Electoral law already passed, law on procedure still uncertain

19 April 2012 Szerző: Nincs komment

The new constituency map – constitutionality vs. political manipulation

Concurrent to the enactment of a new Hungarian electoral law, a brand new constituency map also came into effect. For constitutional reasons, the revision of electoral boundaries could no longer be postponed and the promise of a smaller Parliament served as yet another widely accepted argument. Eventually, a politically thoroughly manipulated electoral map has been elevated to legal status.

  • The design of the new constituency map went ahead without professional and political consultations, whereas the lack of transparency raises the suspicion of political motivation.
  • A possible sign of political manipulation may be the fact that the populations in districts with leftist tendencies are typically 5 to 6 thousand larger than those in rightist districts.
  • According to several calculations, with equal support at the national level Fidesz would be allocated 10 more single-member mandates than its rival.
  • All in all, while a substantial opposition majority may put Fidesz out of business, the new constituency map may also convert a slight governing-party handicap into an advantage.

The voting rights of non-resident Hungarian citizens

At this point, the suffrage extended to Hungarian citizens with no permanent residence inHungaryis shrouded by uncertainties. Both the number of potential voters and their turnout on election day is difficult to estimate, and the yet-to-be-passed procedural act leaves a number of urgent questions unanswered.

  • At this point it is unclear whether non-resident Hungarian citizens will also have the right to participate in the nomination process. The real stumbling block may be the campaign itself: is it possible to conduct a campaign in a foreign country? How can local rules regulating political campaigns inHungarybe applied across state borders? Moreover, it is still unknown where voters outsideHungarywould cast their ballot.
  • Hungarians living in the country will have two (party list and single-member candidate), non-residents will only have one (party list) vote. The arrangement violates the principle of equal voting right and runs counter to international treaties on voting rights.
  • The ballots cast outside the country are unlikely to determine more than 2 to 3% of all parliamentary mandates.
  • The biggest risk in extending suffrage to Hungarian citizens around the world lies in the following dilemma: the law enacted with the alleged intent to unify the nation may easily backfire if a large number of resident Hungarians come to feel they have lost the opportunity to determine their own destiny.

The potential introduction of voter registration

According to earlier media reports, Fidesz is contemplating to replace an automatically generated voter registry with a system of individual voter registration for those wishing to participate in the electoral process.

  • Nothing justifies its introduction as a safeguard for a clean election asHungary’s population-registry system has never been questioned in past elections

For in Hungary a popular tendency of alienation from politics and voter apathy are major problems, and in this environment pre-registration, would only increase the number of passive citizens instead of increasing participation.

You can read the full study here.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.