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Election system “scandalous” says MSzP; Fidesz denies fraud possible

Government

Registration for Hungarian citizens living abroad seeking to vote in the 2014 parliamentary elections began yesterday, and opposition parties are lining up to express grave concern over the “scandalous” regulations which leave the vote well open to fraud.

MSzP Party Chairman Zsolt Molnár took his party’s grievances to the media yesterday to state his case regarding the seemingly easily abused system in place for collecting foreign voters’ ballots.

While MTI quoted Molnár as stating that his party “does not deny the right of ethnic Hungarians outside the border to vote,” the current regulations are “scandalous” and simply “do not guarantee fair elections.”

Such opportunity for abuse was first brought to light by Transparency International (TI) Hungary back in April, and last week saw the Együtt 2014-Dialogue for Hungary coalition note their concerns with the National Election Office (NVI). NVI President Ilona Pálffy chased this up with a pair of high-profile interviews in which she first confirmed that great abuse in ballot submission/collection existed – foreign-based voters in theory need only to drop their ballots at an embassy and consulate with no proof of identity necessary – then subsequently denied the presence of serious faults in the system

Yesterday, Fidesz Party Lawmaker Gergély Gulyás attempted to reassure the populace at a press conference marking the opening of voter registration abroad, claiming that “the guarantees built into the law on electoral procedures rule out the chance of any fraud with an impact on the outcome of the vote.” Gulyás added that while “ethnic Hungarian voters are very important players in the election, there is little chance of their votes determining the outcome of the election.”

One might wonder exactly how Gulyás defines “little chance,” however, as he went on to state that if 200,000 Hungarians abroad voted in the election, he would consider the program successful. With low voter turnout in the 2010 national election, over 5.1 million ballots were cast. In 2006, the number was just over 8 million – and, despite ultimately ending up with 22 fewer seats in parliament, Fidesz actually outdrew MSzP in that election by a 42.0% to 40.3% margin. With a similar turnout in 2014, the foreign vote would represent 2.5% of the electorate – surely enough to swing things.

In addition, Gulyás’ figure of 200,000 was based on an estimate of double that number of dual-citizen Hungarians abroad; yet last week, Fidesz Party Lawmaker Balázs Hidvéghi claimed that nearly 500,000 applications for dual citizenship – including about 60% from Romania – had been received by Hungarian authorities to date. Additionally, Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania (PPMT/EMNP) President Tibor T. Toro claimed that 75% of Romanian Hungarians were at least “likely” to vote in the upcoming election, thereby already representing a potential base of 225,000.

Nevertheless, Molnár couldn’t resist a little optimistic stumping yesterday: Though the system may be open to abuse, “this doesn’t mean the Fidesz government cannot be overthrown.”

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