Home > Uncategorized > Voter registration in Hungary

Voter registration in Hungary

July 30, 2012

Viktor Orbán and his closest friends and political allies must be genuinely afraid that after four years, even with a new electoral law that clearly favors their party, Fidesz might lose the next election. If, however, the government makes prospective voters jump through a pre-election hoop, victory is more likely.

The idea of pre-registration already came up during the debates on the new electoral law in 2011. You may recall that it was János Áder, at the time EU parliamentary member, who was entrusted with the task of writing the law. It was Áder who first brought up the possibility of reviving the old Hungarian custom of voter registers. But it seems that in December 2011 the Fidesz leadership didn’t feel the need to reshape the voter pool by making it more difficult to vote. They felt that Fidesz’s lead was assured and that it was unlikely that the opposition would ever manage to mount a serious and concerted attack against the fortress Fidesz had built on what they considered to be very solid ground.

In the first few months of 2012, however, Fidesz losses as measured by the opinion polls were very serious, and so the idea of voter registration surfaced again. It was during a conference organized by Political Capital, a think tank, that Gergely Gulyás, undersecretary in the Ministry of Administration and Justice, said that the idea had already been discussed in the Ministry.

That is exactly the problem

Then on May 22 an article appeared in Népszabadság in which some unnamed Fidesz politicians talked quite openly about the need to introduce voter registration in order to choose “active and sober citizens who cast their votes on the basis of conscious considerations stemming from their concerns for the future of the nation” and to keep out “the uneducated, ill-mannered, stupid boors [vadbarmok] who are easily influenced by campaign slogans.” This kind of voting restriction was immediately labelled  “intellektuális cenzus.”

A brief explanation of what “cenzus” means in Hungarian is in order. Before the introduction of universal suffrage “cenzus” meant a register based on property qualifications. The system Fidesz wants to and most likely will introduce in effect puts constraints on universal suffrage, with the poor, the uneducated, and the politically undecided likely to be disenfranchised.

Fidesz-KDNP politicians keep telling critics of the planned registration that “several European countries” have the system. This is not true. In Europe there are only two countries, Great Britain and France, who have anything resembling registration. In the United Kingdom registration is necessary because the country, unlike Hungary, doesn’t have an accurate nationwide database that includes every eligible voter of the land. In France, the only prospective voters who have to register are those who turned eighteen after the last election and whose names hence don’t appear on the roll. Otherwise, voters have to register only when they move.

The country most often mentioned by Hungarians as an example is the United States. But again, the United States doesn’t have compulsory registration of domicile. And most states try to make registration as painless as possible.  For example, in several states (Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Wyoming) one can register in person on the day of the election. As you can see here, in most states one can register about 20-30 days before the elections.

The Hungarian system would be different. First of all, it will not be called “registration” (regisztráció) but “signing up” (feliratkozás). What is the difference? Some people pointed out that these two words are synonyms. Yes and no because, as Orbán explained last Friday in his weekly interview, “signing up” is a more active form of “registration.”  It seems that “signing up” is required for national elections, though not for municipal and by-elections. Is it required for every national election? Maybe, maybe not. For the time being what is critical is that it would be mandatory for the 2014 national elections, when Orbán seems vulnerable.

To be eligible to vote in the 2014 national elections, held in late spring, a person must sign up by  January 31. No last-minute decisions. Citizens who don’t register because they aren’t sure  in the winter whether they would vote in the spring would be disenfranchised. And those who find it onerous to sign up would also be ineligible to vote. Think of the villages where there is no registration office and the inhabitants have to travel to a designated town within one of the new administrative districts called “járás.” What about people who have no means of transportation? They would be disenfranchised for no good reason because surely a nationwide database of the voting age population will still be maintained.

With the introduction of its registration or signing up system Fidesz aims to get rid of those people who are not really interested in politics and those who are at a loss about whom they would vote for at the next elections. Let’s not forget that they currently make up more then 50% of the electorate. These are the people who will be least likely to register. And yet, based on past polls, the “undecided” voters were the ones who in fact decided the outcome of the elections both in 2002 and 2006. These “vadbarmok” were the ones who defeated Viktor Orbán. Given his lust for power, one can only imagine Orbán’s hatred of this crowd. He is hoping to filter these people out from the election process.

In addition to filtering out the undesirables, the uneducated, the poor, and the undecided there is surely another consideration: Fidesz voters are easier to motivate. The party has a large, enthusiastic group of party activists who in the last few elections diligently visited each household and took careful notes about their reception. These people can again be employed to make sure that Fidesz voters will sign up. One can argue that MSZP should learn a thing or two about modern campaigning, but at the moment MSZP and the other two small parties are in no position to compete with Fidesz when it comes to most likely ill-gotten party contributions.

Prior to 1919 only a very small percentage of male citizens of Hungary was able to vote: around 7% of the population. In 1919 a new election law was passed that gave the vote to all Hungarian adults without any restrictions. However, soon afterward Prime Minister István Bethlen and his fellow conservative politicians who didn’t trust the people, especially the unwashed masses, kept restricting voting rights on the basis of educational attainment and also by making a distinction between men and women by age.

Today’s Hungary can’t be so obviously discriminatory. The CEO of a major company has exactly the same say in a national election as an illiterate Roma. Some on the far right might argue that this isn’t fair, that only the “right” people should be allowed to vote. Fidesz doesn’t make this noxious intellectual argument. It just contemplates structuring its election laws to tip the balance solidly in favor of the “right” people–those who will vote it back into office.

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  1. Minusio
    July 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm | #1

    If there is an election at all in 2014! I could imagine a scenario where Orbán says, now the international financial scene and our domestic problems are too big and everything needs the total focus of the government because we are in a state of emergency. So, at the moment we just don’t have the time to deal with elections. Sorry, folks!

  2. July 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm | #2

    They know that at least half of their voters are now in the undecided camp, silently banging their heads into the wall. This trick with the registration is clearly aimed to get rid of some of the undecided crowd. Sooner the better, because the country is sliding downwards constantly. This signing-up voodoo is all about statistics.

    A very strong campaign is needed to get the people out to register. Also the opposition has to keep an eye on how the government organizes the registration. 9-5, only on workdays just doesn’t cut it. It has to be 8-8, Saturdays included.

    One more thing: the statistical data, broken down by districts, should be available to the public.

  3. Pete H.
    July 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm | #3

    1) Can clarify something please. From what you wrote it sounds like the proposed voter feliratkozás can only be carried out by government employees in a designated place. Unlike in the US where independent organizations can organize voter registration drives.

    2) Any chance that the IMF talks could make this an issue?

  4. peter litvanyi
    July 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm | #4

    Good article. Thanks, Eva.

  5. gdfxx
    July 31, 2012 at 12:19 am | #5

    Another Hungarian absurdity in the making. Isn’t there anything in the constitution that could make it contestable in the constitutional court?

    I am also flabbergasted by the fact that some – some? apparently many – people would not register because they are not sure if they would vote or not. What do they have to lose if they register? By the way, can registration be done by mail?

  6. Bowen
    July 31, 2012 at 2:55 am | #6

    Pete H. :
    1) Can clarify something please. From what you wrote it sounds like the proposed voter feliratkozás can only be carried out by government employees in a designated place. Unlike in the US where independent organizations can organize voter registration drives.

    Well quite. It’s obviously an issue if you’ve got to travel some distance (in the middle of a Hungarian winter) and queue up somewhere to register. Unlike in the UK where you send off your position on the electoral role in the post (and face a fine if your household doesn’t); or in the US where you can do it online.

  7. July 31, 2012 at 6:07 am | #7

    Pete H. :

    1) Can clarify something please. From what you wrote it sounds like the proposed voter feliratkozás can only be carried out by government employees in a designated place. Unlike in the US where independent organizations can organize voter registration drives.

    2) Any chance that the IMF talks could make this an issue?

    I do hope that the EU will take notice because if there will be serious monkey business with the elections Hungary doesn’t belong to the Union.

  8. July 31, 2012 at 6:09 am | #8

    gdfxx :

    By the way, can registration be done by mail?

    Are you kidding? In Hungary?

  9. July 31, 2012 at 6:59 am | #9

    Professsor you wrote ** “In the United Kingdom registration is necessary because the country, unlike Hungary, doesn’t have an accurate nationwide database that includes every eligible voter of the land.” * *. This is not really true there is a complete database of all persons (that is over the age of 16) who are registered for National Insurance.

    This register can only be used for the purposes for which Parliament originally intended it which is the collection of National Insurance contributions, the payment of state benefits and pensions. The information it contains can be accessed under very limited circumstances by the Inland Revenue. Even the police are not allowed to obtain this information for their (CRO) records.

    The Electoral Register is something far older dating back to medieval times. Every person entitled to vote that is persons over the age of 18 years on polling day and are not excluded by various reasons (certified lunatics, persons serving time in jail etc) must be registered to vote by the ‘householder’ annually on penalty of £1,250 for failure to do so plus £1,500 and 6 months for ‘Contempt of Court’.
    The registration is usually done by post, although I understand that it can now be done via the internet (if the system works).

    The reason for the severity of the penalties is due to the needs of the Administration of Justice. Every charged with a criminal offence in the U.K. has the right to have the case heard by a jury of their peers (equals).

    Jurymen are conscripted (or press ganged) on the basis of the Electoral Register. By tradition (and to stop fraud) those so chosen are ‘pricked’ for Jury Service on the Master Register (a hole is punched by their name). Those ‘pricked’ for jury service have a ‘dagger’ mark printed by their name on the registers which are freely available for public inspection and will remain eligible for this duty until they reach a certain age, die or are summoned for Jury Duty. Pick the bones out of that one Kovach!.

    The article which appeared on May 22 in Népszabadság as quoted by our good hostess is a clear contravention of the European Rules of democracy etc. Again pick the bones out of that one Kovach!.

  10. Mark
    July 31, 2012 at 7:18 am | #10

    Any chance you’ll be able to register online? :-)

  11. Some1
    July 31, 2012 at 7:39 am | #11

    I think the whole idea is that employees from the “independent voting office” (it’s head probably one of Orban’s soccer buddy or previous babysitter) will go with a list they already compiled about individual voting preferences (I do not believe that all the National survey that contained identifying bar codes were for nothing) and make sure that Fidesz supporters are on the list. If any of them do not show up, they will be considered as rebells and be thrown to jail likely. I am not exaggerating, please read the interviews with Orban when he clearly stated that they are putting together a list of voters party preferences or something among those lines.
    Orban is

  12. Csaba K. Zoltani
    July 31, 2012 at 8:50 am | #12

    The requirement to register to be able to vote is widely practiced in the U.S. It is not felt that this potentially deprives anybody of their ability to vote.

  13. An
    July 31, 2012 at 9:01 am | #13

    Csaba K. Zoltani :
    The requirement to register to be able to vote is widely practiced in the U.S. It is not felt that this potentially deprives anybody of their ability to vote.

    In the US you only have to do it once, not before every election. You only have to register again, if you move. Unlike Hungary, the US does not have a central database of everybody’s residence, that’s why people need to register to vote where they live. Once they registered, and don’t move, they are good to go… at every election. Registration is not used as the declaration of planning to vote and is not designed to use to keep undecided voters away.

  14. July 31, 2012 at 9:12 am | #14

    An :

    Csaba K. Zoltani :
    The requirement to register to be able to vote is widely practiced in the U.S. It is not felt that this potentially deprives anybody of their ability to vote.

    In the US you only have to do it once, not before every election. You only have to register again, if you move. Unlike Hungary, the US does not have a central database of everybody’s residence, that’s why people need to register to vote where they live. Once they registered, and don’t move, they are good to go… at every election. Registration is not used as the declaration of planning to vote and is not designed to use to keep undecided voters away.

    Exactly. Plus you register when you become 18. Another important thing is proving you citizenship.

    I’m not sure where the database is but at the booth there are always a bunch of “church ladies” who cross your name out on a big sheet of paper (!) after you show some kind of “bumashka” (like drivers license). What only matters is the address and the citizenship.

    There’s that joke about the lawyers. “How do you know they are lying? – Their lips are moving.” The Orban government’s version is “How do you know they are screwing up something? – They are working …”.

  15. July 31, 2012 at 9:26 am | #15

    Csaba K. Zoltani :

    The requirement to register to be able to vote is widely practiced in the U.S. It is not felt that this potentially deprives anybody of their ability to vote.

    When I read something like that I keep wondering whether the person read my post on the voter’s registration at all. It doesn’t look it. I explained exactly the differences and the philosophy behind the new Fidesz proposal. It is clearly designed to narrow the voting base.

  16. July 31, 2012 at 9:59 am | #16

    Dr Balogh: “Prior to 1919 only a very small percentage of male citizens of Hungary was able to vote: around 7% of the population. In 1919 a new election law was passed that gave the vote to all Hungarian adults without any restrictions”

    In that “terrible” country (you all know that is Hungary) in 1840 one in 14 had the right to vote, at the same time ratio in the advanced western countries was: Austria 1/353, Bohemia 1/828, England 1/24 (and this after the 1832 Reform Bill) and of course the USA was better than others at 1/8

  17. enufff
    July 31, 2012 at 10:04 am | #17

    Back home, we have mobile booths set up . so, you could reg. in shopping malls or in rural areas, whichever that is easiest for you.

    surely, in a EU country, like HU, people should at least be able to do it in their town hall. The way the govt. cooked up this scheme disgusts me.

  18. July 31, 2012 at 10:16 am | #18

    Odin, etc.: “Jurymen are conscripted (or press ganged) on the basis of the Electoral Register. By tradition (and to stop fraud) those so chosen are ‘pricked’ for Jury Service on the Master Register (a hole is punched by their name). Those ‘pricked’ for jury service have a ‘dagger’ mark printed by their name on the registers which are freely available for public inspection and will remain eligible for this duty until they reach a certain age, die or are summoned for Jury Duty. Pick the bones out of that one Kovach!.

    The article which appeared on May 22 in Népszabadság as quoted by our good hostess is a clear contravention of the European Rules of democracy etc. Again pick the bones out of that one Kovach!.

    The first one is easy, it is the same in the US, potential jurors are picked from the voters rolls. Except it is not a lifetime pick,(sorry “prick”) but only for a court session or a year.
    In Many US states one also has to re-register if did not vote in three consequitve general elections.

    I take issue with the second part. It is not my experience that the Fidesz announces its intentions in the Nepszabadsag. The issue reminds me of the (unfortunately) frequant practice best demonstrated by a cartoon, where folks are painting on billboards on both side of a road. One sign reads “Future site of,,” the other side “We are against…” waiting for the other guys to complete their sign. Dr Balogh (with the help of her favorite paper (Nepszava) paints a picture of what they think (or at times hope) the government will do and then analyze it or attack it long before any formal announcement is made of the details.

    Is there a formal proposal for a new system in Hungary?

  19. An
    July 31, 2012 at 10:28 am | #19

    Louis Kovach, sure, let’s wait for the formal proposal. We’ll have plenty of time to take it apart then… all that two days while they run it through the Parliament.

  20. Pete H.
    July 31, 2012 at 11:17 am | #20

    Csaba K. Zoltani :
    The requirement to register to be able to vote is widely practiced in the U.S. It is not felt that this potentially deprives anybody of their ability to vote.

    Actually in the US in some states parts of this system are considered an unreasonable constraint. For instance in Massachusetts there are efforts to move to a same day voter registration. Currently you must register no later than 20 days in advance.

    However every effort is made to make access to registration easy. You can mail it in, do it when you renew or first get a driving license. There are many locations where can walk in and register and non-govermnetal organizations can organize voter registration drives. So for instance, groups can visit seniors homes and register them there.

  21. July 31, 2012 at 11:32 am | #21

    I see Mr Kovach you did not understand ‘Pricking for Jury service’. You have to have a similar mixture of age and sex as there is in the local population. You have to have enough jurors to run the courts for two to three years. When you are summoned and are empanelled at least twice your service is generally over and you will be unpicked on the next register. You can be ‘pricked’ again at some future date but that is very unlikely unless you were ‘pricked’ young or a Judge decides that the case you tried was harrowing or very long in which case the judge may excuse you from any further service. New electoral registers are printed only once per year and contain all those who are or will be over 18 years of age before the next register is issued.
    As to your remarks in Nepszabadsag, I will leave it to our good hostess to comment on that source. If however any part of her report is true and I have read similar comments elsewhere which imply similar ideas. If they prove to be even partially correct then the authorities are depriving some folks of their rights of suffrage..
    I accept your comment of about 1 in 24 of the population voted But that was in 1832 not 2012. Policemen were first allowed to vote about 1883, and women in 1918 if they were over 39 and later in 1928 this was extended to give women the same rights as men. We now live in the year 2012!.

  22. July 31, 2012 at 11:35 am | #22

    Some even suggested to make the voting mandatory after registering. I guess this would mean fines. I sincerely hope this idea will not make into the law.

    In every free country voting is encouraged as the most important civic responsibility. Not on Planet Hungary! Another unorthodox idea from the little middle European geniuses. Let’s discourage voting.

    And then, like in a Greek drama, the Fidesz chorus (Zoltani) goes: “To learn your wonderful ideas would not displease me much … would leave me speechless, oh.”

  23. July 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm | #23

    Sorry Mutt Voting is compulsory in the land of ‘Oz’ (Australia). The penalty for failing to vote is $A20.

  24. July 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm | #24

    Crikey, mate! I still think it is a very stupid idea. Because in the land of the Goulash this coupled with an optional pre-registration will discourage people.

  25. July 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm | #25

    Pete H. :

    Actually in the US in some states parts of this system are considered an unreasonable constraint. For instance in Massachusetts there are efforts to move to a same day voter registration. Currently you must register no later than 20 days in advance.

    However every effort is made to make access to registration easy. You can mail it in, do it when you renew or first get a driving license. There are many locations where can walk in and register and non-govermnetal organizations can organize voter registration drives. So for instance, groups can visit seniors homes and register them there.

    On the link I gave in the post on voter’s registration you can register right on the spot online.

  26. July 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | #26

    Sorry Mutt it is worse than that. There are 9 other countries including Luxemburg (under special conditions). The object is to get people to vote.

  27. CharlieH
    July 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm | #27

    London Calling!

    England is NOT a good example of how to administer the voting process.

    All too often there are opportunities to commit fraud – and many in England believe the occurrences are widespread – but on a small scale. That is, many incidents involving a small number of votes by over-zealous party members – many stealing postal voting papers from blocks of flats’ entrance halls – or filling in, fraudulently, postal voting requests.

    A judge commented on one such case that England’s voting system was worthy of a banana republic.

    I have a postal vote simply because my usual voting station was opposite my house at the local school – until they moved MY station to a school three quarters of a mile away. Ludicrous.

    Many of us in England believe the answer is registering and voting via the internet – as we do in local elections. Orban would probably manipulate this fraudulently – but it is the answer to universal suffrage.

    They manage very well in the European Parliament – which, btw, I believe is very efficient and not over-bureaucratic.

    But our parliament is so archaic that they won’t even use technology properly – If an MP wishes to stay away for whatever reason then he is ‘paired’ with another MP of the opposition party – who needs to be away. If he can’t find a ‘pair’ – then tough. It would be easy to give MPs the freedom of an electronic voting system. Voting has to be done with the MP’s body – that is, he has to physically congregate in a ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ lobby. These votes are very time consuming and many of us believe are a complete waste of time.

    Many believe that we do things well when we have to administer things – like the Olympics for example – but all too often pageantry and historical precedent just get in the way.

    But if we do change things an eagle eye is kept on the process to ensure no unfair advantage – these are our checks and balances which are completely absent in Hungary.

    ‘An’ is correct – Orban will change things in a wink of an eye – to his advantage no doubt – and without the due process of debate. So debate away. Assume the worst!

    Regards

    Charlie

  28. July 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm | #28

    Odin’s Lost eye :
    Sorry Mutt it is worse than that. There are 9 other countries including Luxemburg (under special conditions). The object is to get people to vote.

    Well, 20 bucks will not break the bank, so I seriously doubt that this fine gets out the Ozzies to vote.

    Mandatory, 100% voting can go either way. In 2010 in Hungary many thought the FIDESZ will win anyway, why bother. And this was true I believe in case of both pro and anti FIDESZ voters. This is speculation of course but I would think if these people would have voted then Orban may have ended up with more than 53%. Well, nobody realized how important the numbers were.

    Now the voters learned the lesson. That’s why Orban is pushing this law to keep at least some of these undecided voters home.

    And again to the FIDESZ chorus: of course there is nothing wrong with registration. You do it once and you prove your eligibility and residence. Done. The rest is technicality. This is the case in the US. The authorities need some time to prepare the lists and verify if needed the registration data. That’s what the few weeks are needed for before the elections. But it’s OK since you do it once unless you move.

    Let’s beat the drums to let Orban know that we won’t let this go like some genetically half-asiatic mindless subjects.

  29. CharlieH
    July 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm | #29

    London Calling! (2)

    O/T I know we had a debate on the best smoked Hungarian sausage and salamis but it looks as if Gyulai Húskombinát will go bust – the largest taxpayer in South-East Hungary.

    http://www.xpatloop.com/news/hungarys_oldest_meat_processor_awaits_lifeline_from_state

    I know one of Eva’s blogs expounded on a sausage factory being too closely associated with a Fidesz MP – is this a corollary?

    Regards

    Charlie

  30. July 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm | #30

    Dr Balogh: “On the link I gave in the post on voter’s registration you can register right on the spot online.”

    However, in most states, if you register on voting day, you can only cast a “provisional” ballot, which becomes valid only after the appropriate legal address is verified.

  31. July 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm | #31

    Louis Kovach :

    Dr Balogh: “On the link I gave in the post on voter’s registration you can register right on the spot online.”

    However, in most states, if you register on voting day, you can only cast a “provisional” ballot, which becomes valid only after the appropriate legal address is verified.

    You don’t speak to the issue here. I’m talking about online registration and not about registration on the day of the election.

  32. July 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm | #32

    Dr Balogh :I’m talking about online registration and not about registration on the day of the election.”

    Correction, if you register on-line the address needs to be verified before registration becomes valid, and if you register on voting day you can only cast provisional ballot, regardless of registration method.

  33. gdfxx
    July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | #33

    Eva: “On the link I gave in the post on voter’s registration you can register right on the spot online.”

    In Oregon on can register on-line or by mail but proof of citizenship need to be shown in person to enable one to vote in federal elections.

  34. nyaripal
    July 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm | #34

    In the UK you CAN register online – I have done so for several years. If no details have changed you just click the appropriate box and that’s it.

    Not that I’m in favour of voter registration, in theory all you should need to vote is proof of citizenship/age. But of course, in the UK, where our first-past-the-post ‘democracy’ means where you live is critical, voter registration is unfortunately necessary.

    One weird aspect of voting in the UK is that you don’t have to prove who you are when you vote! You just give your name and address, they check it on a list of registered voters, and give you the ballot paper. You could, in theory, pick any name and address you happen to know in your poling area and vote as them. If you were sure you weren’t going to be recognised (the polling staff work shifts), you could even do this several times as different people.

    Having said that, and contrary to Charlie H’s earlier post, my experience in the UK is that the vast majority of people believe the system to be fair and to work well. And in fact there are very, very few cases of results being called into doubt because of alleged fraud, even where the result has depended on just a few votes.

    The only real weakness in the system is postal voting, which has gone from a very minor exception to being touted by the politicians as the future way to vote (presumably because they think more people are likely to vote). The suspected abuse (although only low level) of postal voting and people’s distrust of the system means that any possibility of on-line voting in the UK is dependent on people being really convinced of the security of the system. And in a country that doesn’t have ID cards, that isn’t going to be easy.

    One last point – you can’t use the UK national insurance number system in place of an ID card or voter registration system as NI numbers are given to anyone wanting to work in the UK, whatever their nationality. My wife, for instance, has a UK NI number, but she doesn’t have a vote.

  35. Kirsten
    July 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm | #35

    Kovach:
    In that “terrible” country (you all know that is Hungary) in 1840 one in 14 had the right to vote, at the same time ratio in the advanced western countries was: Austria 1/353, Bohemia 1/828, England 1/24 (and this after the 1832 Reform Bill) and of course the USA was better than others at 1/8

    How impressive! In 1840, Hungary was ahead of other countries – hopefully not only because these rights to vote were granted to the unelected and bloated nobility. I think, to stay ahead of the others, Hungary should seriously reexamine the appropriateness of secret ballot and return to the “old Hungarian custom” of checking the votes – only cowards can resist that!

  36. Kirsten
    July 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm | #36

    Mutt Damon :
    Crikey, mate! I still think it is a very stupid idea. Because in the land of the Goulash this coupled with an optional pre-registration will discourage people.

    I am not in favour of fines for not voting but reading that the word “costs” alone already might discourage people from registration to vote, I am not sure whether the EU can do anything to save democracy in Hungary. With people giving up their rights only because it may also entail “costs”, what should the EU do?

  37. Dubious
    August 1, 2012 at 6:17 am | #37

    It will be interesting to see if there will be some pressure (obviously not from the government) on the legitimacy and effectiveness of the electoral registration office.

    As the number of voters (residents) is already known and registered, it will be easier to see if, say, 50% of the electorate enrolls. Is that a good number? That would make an interesting table of comparison with other voter registration systems. Could any government claim that being elected from that proportion of elected voters is legitimate?

    Many countries have low turn out rates at elections, but Hungary may become an outlier in the low proportion of people who are allowed to vote.

    I’m sure Fidesz would still happily accept the victory, and its spoils, but it will turn into more adverse international publicity of the “Hungary on the road to dictatorship” kind.

  38. wolfi
    August 1, 2012 at 6:52 am | #38

    A bit OT:

    Does anyone remember the questionnaire that Orbán sent to all Hungarian voters ?

    My wife got hers finally at the end of June, but of course didn’t send it back …

    What about numbers, how many sent it back and how were the answers to those “Very important questions” ?

    I haven’t heard/read anything yet …

  39. CharlieH
    August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am | #39

    London Calling!

    Wolfi – My partner put it in the bin in July – accompanied with some colourful rhetoric!

    And….

    In England my (Hungarian) partner registered – by post, on the electoral register (you can only register online if nothing changes).

    And she voted in the London elections – with a legitimate local election vote.

    (Of course, she can’t vote in the General elections.)

    I can pay quite large sums for stuff I buy on the internet – so why shouldn’t I be able to vote? Authentication could be sorted out quite easily – and the cost savings could be immense.

    Many people in England want to do this – and the ‘turnout’ would be extremely high – I have no doubt.

    Regards

    Charlie

  40. spectator
    August 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm | #40

    Is there any information available regarding if the “wrong side of the border” Hungarian citizens need a registration/sign up too, or its only privilege of the natives?

    Wouldn’t it be discrimination in that case?

    Any answer appreciated.
    Thanks in advance1

  41. LwiiH
    August 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | #41

    It’s being reported that if you sign up and don’t vote, you won’t be allowed to vote in the following election…. this is getting to be so flawed it’s pathetic.

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