When Hungarians picked up their ballots to vote in April’s national elections, more than half of their 23 choices were parties they’d never heard of. The familiar players — Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik — were there, along with, yes, the Two-Tailed Dog Party, known for its community projects but also for not only promised to fill the capital’s streets with beer to end traffic jams, but also plastered signs around Budapest calling for eternal life plus 20 years for all Hungarians. But what about the “Party for a Sporty and Healthy Hungary,” “Poor People for Hungary,” and “The Party for All Poor People?” Along with 11 more, they have no website, no campaign materials — and no real intention to win votes. They’re called “fake parties,” and they’re not aspiring victory. Hungarian police are investigating some 100 cases of suspected election fraud by parties that appear to have been created shortly before the 2014 elections to cash in on lucrative campaign subsidies. But experts say that those parties aren’t just formed to siphon campaign money. They’re helping Orban cement his hold on power.
Tens of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated in Budapest Saturday against the re-elected Fidesz-KDNP coalition led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Opponents of the government flooded from the Opera House to Parliament to protest at what they say is an unfair electoral system, according to media reports. Orbán won a third straight term in power in elections on April 8 on the back of a strongly anti-immigrant campaign. The incumbent coalition has regained a two-thirds supermajority in the National Assembly, with final results showing that Fidesz and its ally the Christian Democratic Peopleʼs Party (KDNP) won 133 seats in the 199-seat legislature. Opposition protesters complained that Hungary’s electoral rules – a hybrid of first-past-the-post voting and proportional representation – have given the governing coalition such a large majority in Parliament despite it winning only around 49% of the popular vote.
Thousands of Hungarians protested in Budapest on Saturday against what organisers said was an unfair election system that gave prime minister Viktor Orbán another landslide victory at the polls after a “hate campaign” against immigrants. Orbán won a third term in power after his anti-immigration campaign message secured a strong majority for his ruling Fidesz party in parliament, granting him two-thirds of seats based on preliminary results. In a Facebook post before the rally, organisers called for a recount of ballots, free media, a new election law, as well as more efficient cooperation among opposition parties instead of the bickering seen in the run-up to the vote.
International observers have delivered a damning verdict on the parliamentary election in Hungary, complaining of “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing”. The vote on Sunday delivered an overwhelming victory for Viktor Orbán, who will now serve a third consecutive term as prime minister. Orbán and his Fidesz party campaigned almost exclusively on a programme of keeping migrants out of the country. “Rhetoric was quite hostile and xenophobic and that’s a fact which we find regrettable in an electoral context,” said Douglas Wake, the head of the monitoring mission for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), at a briefing in Budapest on Monday. The observers found that the hostile campaign “limited space for substantive debate and diminished voters’ ability to make an informed choice”. They also noted that public television “clearly favoured the ruling coalition”.
It’s a safe bet that few in Brussels are celebrating Viktor Orbán’s resounding win. Elected for a fourth term, Hungary’s anti-immigrant nationalist leader poses a profound challenge for the European Union. Since returning as prime minister in 2010, Orbán and his Fidesz party have chipped away at Hungary’s democratic checks and balances, curbed judicial independence and clamped down on the independent media. Hungary’s democratic backsliding has been accompanied by a drumbeat of xenophobic rhetoric, directed against refugees, Brussels and George Soros. The EU, used to grappling with Brexit, is now confronting a country at the heart of the continent making an exit from the club’s liberal values, but continuing to pick up the cheques.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leads the polls by a mile, his opposition is a bickering patchwork of smaller parties that won’t coordinate and he dominates the public agenda through his firm grip on the media. Yet there is still a chance – a slim chance – that he could lose his majority on Sunday. That’s because a growing number of voters – guided by widely publicized independent and party-sponsored surveys available online – may be set to discard ideology and party allegiances to vote for the candidates who are most likely to win. “Voters might actually do what these parties fail to do, which is vote for the candidate who has the best chance,” Csaba Toth, strategic director of local thinktank Republikon Institue.
The election ads were both urgent and familiar: If residents didn’t vote for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, Europe would be swamped with migrants. Pushed in billboards and Facebook ads, the campaign fell flat during local elections in this small town in the Hungarian heartland, once fiercely loyal to Mr. Orban, who built barbed-wire fences to keep out migrants at the height of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis. “I am tired of this topic,” said pensioner Zoltanne Egressy, among the 58% of voters who backed the opposition at the polls in February, delivering a shock defeat to the internationally renowned politician on his home turf. “There is nobody at the border!”
Hungary: ‘Ghettos and no-go zones’: Hungary’s far right fuels migrant fears ahead of vote | The Guardian
Nobody in Miskolc can say with certainty that they have ever seen a migrant or a refugee in the city. A few residents think they might have seen one or two people back in 2015 but cannot be sure. Others say their friends have seen migrants in the streets but admit they have not seen any themselves. And yet, in this city of 160,000 inhabitants in north-east Hungary, a fierce election campaign is under way in which there is one overriding issue being discussed ahead of the vote on 8 April. It is not the recent series of corruption scandals involving government officials and vast sums of money. Nor is it the depressing state of local healthcare or low wages. It is migration. The tone for the election in Miskolc – as across the country – has been set by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who is seeking to win a third consecutive term on a far-right platform of sealing Hungary’s borders to migrants.
In Budapest 1, a parliamentary district at the heart of the Hungarian capital, most voters will not support the party of Viktor Orban, the country’s far-right prime minister, in a general election on April 8. Yet as things stand, Mr. Orban’s party, Fidesz, will hold on to the seat — and its huge majority in Parliament. That speaks as much to the relative strength of Mr. Orban’s base as it does to his gerrymandering and his allies’ takeover of most private news outlets. But it’s also because Hungary’s gaggle of small left-liberal opposition parties, who collectively form a majority in seats like this one, refuse to join forces behind a unity candidate.
Hungary’s ruling right-wing nationalist party Fidesz suffered an unexpected setback at the weekend when its candidate for mayor in the southern city of Hodmezovasarhely was defeated in a closely watched contest. The liberal opposition-backed independent candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, had 57.5% of the vote over Fidesz’ Zoltan Hegedus, who captured 41.6% of the electorate. Election officials said turnout was significantly higher than last round of parliamentary elections in 2014, with 62.4% of eligible voters in Hodmezovasarhely having cast a ballot.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s failed referendum against EU refugee quotas brought him harsh attacks at home and dismissal abroad. Orban suffered a stinging domestic rebuke to his anti-refugee campaign on Sunday, when his pet referendum drew just 40 percent of eligible voters, rendering the plebiscite invalid. At least 50 percent turnout was needed. Still, more than 98 percent of those who cast a ballot supported Orban’s anti-refugee stance. Toth Csaba, an analyst at the Republikon Institute in Budapest, called the results a failure for a prime minister who put considerable resources into swaying public opinion ahead of the plebiscite. “It’s more of loss for the government,” Csaba said. “Expectations were very high, and the government put forth a massive spending campaign to support it.” Orban had called the referendum to boost his political standing at home – and to taunt Brussels and Berlin over a program that has been essentially discarded. Last year the European Union announced plans to introduce a system to distribute more than 1 million migrants among member states.
Low voter turnout invalidated Hungary’s referendum on European Union refugee quotas, even though citizens voted overwhelmingly in support of the government’s opposition to any future, mandatory EU plans to relocate asylum-seekers. The government claimed a “sweeping victory,” but analysts said that the result was an “embarrassing but not totally catastrophic defeat” for Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “We can be proud that we are the first and so far only member state of the European Union” to hold such a referendum, Orban told supporters after the results were known. “Hungarians were able to give their direct opinions on the issue of immigration.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban is asking Hungarians to reject quotas for the settlement of refugees in a referendum that may solidify his power at home and boost his leverage in an increasingly divided Europe. Polls show overwhelming support for a “no” vote backed by Orban, leaving turnout as the main hurdle for the premier, who needs at least 50 percent participation to make the referendum binding. The question on the ballot is “Do you want the European Union to be able to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without parliament’s consent?” European leaders have sought to show unity this month after a tumultuous year for the region, with the biggest wave of refugees since World War II and the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU tearing at the seams of the bloc. Orban has been the staunchest opponent of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy and he may use the vote to showcase support for his zero-immigration approach. The Hungarian prime minister is also looking to harness political momentum before parliamentary elections in 2018, where he’ll seek a third consecutive term.
Hungary: National Election Office: 18 percent of mail-in ballots spoiled in Hungarian referendum | Hungarian Free Press
Hungary’s National Election Office has processed 32,254 mail-in ballots for the Sunday referendum against EU-wide “migrant quotas” and has deemed that 18% of them (5,708) were spoiled by voters. Hungarians living abroad and holding dual citizenship are eligible to vote by mail-in ballot, but thus far only 28% of the 274,573 registered voters have chosen to participate in the October 2nd referendum. The National Election Office will continue to both receive and process mail-in ballots on Thursday and Friday, but participation among those who live abroad and hold dual citizenship is far below the 50% +1 threshold. It’s hard to tell if the large number of spoiled ballots are deliberate, or merely an indication that Hungarians living abroad are not completing their voting packages as per the National Election Office’s instructions. It takes several steps to cast a valid mail-in vote. Voters must complete a declaration form with their name, date of birth and other personal information, and must include this form alongside their completed mail-in ballot, but must not place it together with their ballot into the small white envelope (which goes into the larger self-addressed and stamped envelope) that voters have been provided.
Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Hungary of mistreating refugees and migrants on purpose to deter them from seeking to cross into the European Union from Serbia, days before the country holds a referendum on EU migrant quotas. The Hungarian government had no immediate comment on the report in which the human rights organization accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of replacing “the rule of law with the rule of fear.” Critics say Hungary has been heavy-handed in answer to the migrant crisis that saw about 1.3 million people reaching the European Union last year. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be expelled from the bloc for breaching European values, including erecting a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia.
Hungary: Hungarians Caught Between National Referendum And European Union Migrant Quotas | Eurasia Review
Europeans have not talked so much about European affairs as they have since the summer of 2016. After the clap of thunder generated by Brexit, another storm is building up and heading towards Brussels. Indeed, another European Union (EU) member state is speaking out against EU politicians, leading to a situation seen equally as the EU attempting to defy the sovereignty of its member states and vice versa. In just a matter of weeks Hungary will hold a referendum on October 2, with ruling fight-wing Fidesz asking Hungarians if they accept the migrants relocation mechanism created by the European Commission under the head of Jean-Claude Juncker. It is no surprise that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is generally described as a populist and constantly on the outlook for scapegoats, uses the tool of referendum to legitimize its decisions rather epically. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, also announced that she would be consulting the French volk more often if she would be elected in the 2017 presidential election.
Hungary will hold a government-initiated referendum on Oct. 2 seeking political support to oppose any European Union efforts to resettle refugees among its member states, the office of President Janos Ader said Tuesday. Ader’s office said that the question to be asked in the referendum will be: “Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?” Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who staunchly opposes immigration, said earlier that a “no” vote would be “in favor of Hungary’s independence and rejecting the mandatory settlement plan.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party was the clear winner in Sunday’s nationwide municipal elections, with its candidates winning the mayor’s post in Budapest, the capital, and in 20 of Hungary’s 23 largest cities. Speaking to supporters after preliminary results were announced, Orban vowed to “make Hungary great” in the upcoming years and boasted of winning elections for the third time this year, after victories in the national elections and for the European Parliament. The far-right Jobbik, trying to distance itself from earlier anti-Roma and racist statements, finished mostly far behind Fidesz but ahead of the left-wing opposition in most rural areas. Jobbik won in nine smaller cities, up from three in 2010.
Hungary: The 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections, or how to craft a constitutional majority | Washington Post
Last weekend’s parliamentary elections in Hungary should have been a major event, at least within the European Union and the United States. Over the past four years the E.U. and the United States have criticized the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for its authoritarian, conservative and nationalist tendencies. These were institutionalized in the new constitution, which the government rammed through the toothless Hungarian parliament, in which the national-conservative Fidesz-KDNP party coalition held a constitutional majority. Scores of domestic and foreign observers have highlighted the many problematic parts of the constitution, although very little has been changed as a consequence of these critiques. But these are not ordinary times. The United States is preoccupied with the situation in Ukraine, while the E.U. is crippled by the lingering economic crisis and fears of an anti-European backlash in European elections next month. As a consequence, the Hungarian elections received little special attention from the E.U. and U.S. elite, despite widespread fears that another victory for Orbán, dubbed the “Viktator” by domestic critics, could lead to permanent damage to Hungary’s still-young liberal democracy.
Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party coasted to a clear victory in last weekend’s Hungarian election, as expected. The governing party got 45% of the vote, but the new “rules of the game” turned this plurality vote into two thirds of the seats in the parliament. A continuing two-thirds parliamentary majority allows Orbán to govern without constraint because he can change the constitution at will. But this constitution-making majority hangs by a thread. Orbán’s mandate to govern is clear because his party got more votes than any other single political bloc. What is not legitimate, however, is his two-thirds supermajority. Orbán was certainly not supported by two-thirds of Hungarians – nowhere close. In fact, a majority gave their votes to other parties. Orbán’s two-thirds victory was achieved through legal smoke and mirrors. Legal. But smoke and mirrors.
Hungarians handed their maverick Prime Minister Viktor Orban another four years in power, election results showed on Monday, while one in every five voters backed a far-right opposition party accused of anti-Semitism. Orban has clashed repeatedly with the European Union and foreign investors over his unorthodox policies, and after Sunday’s win, big businesses were bracing for another term of unpredictable and, for some of them, hostile measures. But many Hungarians see Orban, a 50-year-old former dissident against Communist rule, as a champion of national interests. They also like the fact that under his government personal income tax and household power bills have fallen. After 96 percent of the ballots were counted from Sunday’s parliamentary vote, an official projection gave Orban’s Fidesz party 133 of the 199 seats, guaranteeing that it will form the next government.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) has asked for a written guarantee that the software which will aggregate the results of next weekend’s election is safe from any outside tampering. According to HVG, party MP Ferenc Baja put forward the request on Wednesday, when the National Elections Office (NVI) gave a closed-door briefing on the functioning of the software. NVI director Ilona Pálffy promised to present the results of an audited test of the system on Tuesday. The portal also noted that the NVI had planned to hold a public demonstration of the software the previous Friday, which apparently failed to take place. Members of the opposition have repeatedly voiced concerns in recent weeks about the software, pointing out that under previous Socialist-Liberal (MSZP-SZDSZ) governments the was in place and subject to public demonstrations 90 days before elections.
Hungarians residing permanently outside their country may help Viktor Orban score a higher win in this year’s parliamentary election after they were given the right to vote. Mr. Orban is headed for a second consecutive term in power. His Fidesz party won the 2010 election in a landslide. Its two-thirds majority in the country’s parliament has allowed it to push through at-times controversial legislation, including a change of electoral rules that allows Hungarian minorities in other countries to vote in national elections. Depending on the turnout in Hungary, their votes could be decisive, experts agree. So far, only those with a permanent residence in the country could vote at the elections, casting their votes at embassies. Legislation by the current government extended voting rights to those without a permanent address in Hungary.
Hungary will hold parliamentary elections April 6, when the country’s combative Prime Minister Viktor Orban expects to win a second consecutive term in power. The sooner Hungary’s new government is in power, the smoother the country may continue to draw on vital European Union funds, President Janos Ader said in a release, in which he listed the reasons for setting the poll for the earliest date possible under the election law. The election will pit Mr. Orban against Socialist party head Attila Mesterhazy, whose candidacy is pending the undoubted seal of approval from a Socialist party congress Jan. 25. According to Mr. Orban, the election is about whether voters want to preserve the government’s massive utility price cuts in the face of strong objections and lobbying in Brussels by large multinational companies. Mr. Orban would most likely regard an election victory as a validation of his heavy-handed nationalist policy, which caused strains in relations with the EU in his first four-year term.
The opposition Socialist Party has called on the government to request the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send observers to ensure the transparency of Hungary’s general and European Parliamentary elections next spring. Socialist lawmaker Tibor Szanyi said his party suspected that the ruling Fidesz party was “ready to perpetrate election fraud in all 11,000 constituencies nationwide”. Szanyi insisted that at least 1,000 OSCE observers would be needed, one for every 10 polling stations.
A landmark ruling by a United Nations body found that Hungary’s voting laws are disenfranchising people with disabilities, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling applies to all 137 countries that have adopted the international disability rights treaty. These governments are required to review their laws and practices to eliminate any provisions that prevent people from voting due to their disabilities. The UN Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the panel of experts who interpret the international disability rights treaty, ruled that Hungary’s restriction on the right for people with intellectual disabilities to vote violates international human rights law. Under the recently amended Hungarian constitution, people under guardianship are automatically excluded from voting unless a judge determines they have the capacity to vote. The ruling said that any exclusion of the right to vote on the basis of “perceived or actual disability,” whether as a general rule or following an individual assessment, was discrimination in violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Instead it said governments were under a duty to ensure all people with disabilities could exercise their right to vote, including in the way they design voting procedures and in providing assistance where necessary.
The three political parties in Hungary’s parliamentary opposition appear to be upset with the ruling Fidesz Party’s choice of candidate for the country’s next president. According to party statements on Tuesday, the opposition is considering boycotting the May 2 president elections to protest Fidesz stalwart Janos Ader’s candidacy. However, a boycott would be little more than symbolic since Ader is likely to be voted by a two-thirds majority in parliament. “
Ethnic Hungarians should vote on individual candidates rather then party lists in Hungary’s next general election, national daily Magyar Nemzet said on Friday, citing Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover as saying.
“I would prefer Hungarian citizens living abroad to send individual deputies to Hungarian Parliament,” Kover said recently at a youth camp, organised for ethnic Hungarians in Szentendre near Budapest. The MPs delegated this way should be independent politicians, he added.
Constituencies in the future will be based on a new system of geographical districts to be introduced in 2013, daily Magyar Hirlap said on Monday quoting a draft ministry programme.
In line with the Magyary programme of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, districts will replace subregions from 2013. Hungary will be divided into 150-250 districts in the new public administration system and according to the paper, it would be logical to have each district elect an MP.
An important component in the renewal of the Socialist Party is reconsidering its nation policy, deputy head of the party Andras Balogh told a press conference on Thursday, adding that his party approved of ensuring easy citizenship access for ethnic Hungarians, but would not consider granting voting rights “an integral part” of the process.
Balog said that the government’s efforts to seek closer ties with Hungarians in neighbouring countries and re-unite the nation should also involve reducing differences within the country’s borders.