Hungarian domestic attitudes toward voting rights of outsiders

The forthcoming election will be a hot topic in the next few months, and the voting rights of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries will be a continuing subtext. So today let’s look at how the citizens of Hungary feel about non-residents by the tens of thousands voting and perhaps deciding the outcome of the election.

We can safely say that the overwhelming majority of the electorate disapproves of the idea, and that even includes a large portion of Fidesz voters. And, as we will see later, people’s negative sentiments have not changed in the last two years.

The politically naive might ask why on earth Fidesz-KDNP insisted on granting voting rights to dual citizens. The answer is simple. Party strategists consider the pro-Fidesz votes coming from abroad, especially from Romania, important, perhaps even vital, to the party’s success in the 2014 elections. At the same time they most likely ascertained through their own polls that Fidesz supporters won’t defect over the voting rights issue.

In light of these findings it is more difficult to understand Együtt-MP’s opposition to abolishing the voting rights of dual citizens without domicile and steady employment in Hungary in the event they are victorious in 2014. One would think that Gordon Bajnai’s party would take advantage of their potential supporters’ strong dislike of the Fidesz-introduced piece of legislation that serves only Fidesz’s political interests.

In any event, let’s see the results of three polls measuring the electorate’s attitude toward voting rights. All three were conducted by Medián. The first was conducted between May 7 and 11, 2010, that is before the enactment of the electoral law.  The next Medián poll was done in July 2012 and the third in November 2012. I’m very much hoping that Medián will follow up with another poll after Hungarians hear more about the possibility of electoral fraud as a result of a (perhaps intentionally) sloppily written law. But given the results of the past three polls it is unlikely that Hungarians’ enthusiasm for the voting rights of non-residents would suddenly soar.

In May 2010 19% of Fidesz voters disapproved of granting both citizenship and voting rights to Hungarians in the neighboring countries and only 30% approved of both. The rest, 46%, supported dual citizenship but without voting rights. So, 65% of Fidesz voters surveyed were against granting voting rights to Hungarians outside the borders. 62% of MSZP voters opposed both citizenship and voting rights and only 5% approved of the Fidesz plan. Jobbik voters were split on the issue: 35% of them wouldn’t grant outsiders anything but 35% of them were happy with Fidesz’s plan. Those without party preference also overwhelmingly opposed voting rights. Only 13% supported the government’s plan. All in all, 71% of the adult population were against granting voting rights and 33% even opposed granting citizenship. Only 23% supported the proposed law that included both.

The July 2012 poll inquired about other aspects of Hungary’s relations with the neighboring countries, especially the Hungarian government’s involvement with party politics in countries in the Carpathian Basin. As soon as Fidesz won the elections the government unabashedly supported certain Hungarian minority parties and ignored or actively worked against others. This particular poll concentrated on Romanian-Hungarian affairs and specifically the Hungarian government’s support of small parties that are politically closer to Fidesz than the largest Hungarian Party, Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség (RMDSZ) or in Romanian Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România (UDMR). Medián wanted to know what Hungarians think of direct Hungarian involvement in political campaigns outside of Hungary’s borders. In addition, Medián inquired about people’s opinion of the government’s support of insignificant political groups in Romania as opposed to the largest Hungarian party, RMDSZ. And while Medián was at it, they included a question testing whether their May 2010 findings about Hungarians’ opinion on the voting rights of people of foreign domicile had changed at all.

The overwhelming majority (78%) disapproved of the government’s involvement in the politics of its neighbors. As for Fidesz’s support of smaller Romanian-Hungarian parties that are closer to the Fidesz leadership’s heart, even Fidesz voters were split on the issue, with 50% supporting the Fidesz strategy but 37% disapproving. In the population as a whole only 24% thought that supporting small political groupings was a capital idea while 52% thought such a strategy was self-defeating. A rather large number of those surveyed (24%) had no opinion.

As to the issue of citizenship and voting rights, more than two years went by and nothing really changed. In May 2010 71% disapproved and only 23% approved, in July 2012 70% still disliked the idea but the supporters went up a bit, from 23% to 26%. Not really significant.

In November 2012 Medián conducted another poll. The overwhelming majority of MSZP, LMP, DK, MSZP, Együtt 2014, and undecided voters rejected that section of the electoral law that grants voting rights to dual citizens. Although a relative majority of Fidesz (55%) and Jobbik (53%) voters supported it, in the population as a whole those who opposed it were still slightly over 70%.

The November 2012 Medián poll on the issue of voting of outsiders on national elections

The November 2012 Medián poll on the issue of voting by outsiders in national elections
blue = approval, red = disapproval, gray = doesn’t know

DK is the only party that openly declares its opposition to voting rights. MSZP’s program indicates that they sympathize with DK’s position. But Együtt 2014-PM insists that they will not touch the status quo created by Fidesz for its own political gain. I fear that this issue might be one of the thorniest between MSZP and Együtt 2014-MP during the negotiations.

Given public opinion in Hungary, I think it would be an unnecessary gesture to leave this part of the law on citizenship intact. Moreover, flying in the face of overwhelming public opinion against this legislation might irritate some of Együtt 2014’s supporters who by the largest margin (87%) among any of the parties rejected the idea of voting rights.

Advertisements

60 comments

  1. Troll or not troll, I find “tweets” from Po’k disrupting my flow of reading the more valuable comments.

    Perhaps s/he could consider another way of posting?

  2. Eva S. Balogh :
    Po’k, OK, I see you have one of those smart phones. I just don’t know how on earth you can live with it as your only vehicle to the internet. It would drive me crazy. The reason I couldn’t find you IP number is that you use the internet through a special software that enables you to communicate with us. By the way, the headquarters of the company that makes the software are in Switzerland.

    In the days when I used dial-up, my ISP used to automatically allocate me a different IP address at random each time I logged in. I believe this is/was fairly common. Something like this could be what is causing Po’K’s address ‘problem’.

    Interestingly, I was actually banned from a football forum because the moderator noticed my varying IP address and assumed I must be a troll!

  3. Paul :
    In the days when I used dial-up, my ISP used to automatically allocate me a different IP address at random each time I logged in. I believe this is/was fairly common. Something like this could be what is causing Po’K’s address ‘problem’.

    Nah. That was in a different century. Now you can completely mask you identity. Even from the NSA … Pók does it for a reason. Likely because she was banned before.

  4. A ridiculous ‘discussion’, I must say. Who can seriously discuss ‘representation without taxation’ and its merits??! Sorry, but my history books said that that argument was settled over 200 years ago–at least, in progressive countries. DK is the only party with any sense.
    Or historical knowledge.

  5. Mutt :
    Let’s recap the new voting system for a minute.
    One round. There will be 199 MPs. 106 elected directly 93 elected from the party list. There will be only one such list.
    If the turnout will be the usual 60% (ish) then that means 4-5 million voters (intra-Trianon).
    If you don’t have a residency you can only vote on the party list.
    The “fractional” votes will be added to the party list from the results of the directly elected MPs so this will add 1-2 million extra.
    So if a likely 50% is Fidesz vote in the list, that is cca. 3 million, the expected 50k extra-Trianon vote is around 1.5% difference, assuming all voted for Orban. This equals to 1-2 seats (from 93 MP elected from the list).
    That’s not bad. What am I getting wrong here?

    You’re correct, if one looks at the numbers as absolute amount of votes, of course.
    However, I guess the extra Trianon votes would rather be used as complementary “fill ins” – in case of some Fidesz candidates need a few more votes to win, here and there, it could make all the difference!
    Particularly in light of the possibilities – see tappanch #43 above, for one – to do just about anything to ensure, they will have the “right” kind of votes in hands.
    Since there is no – official – way to identify the ballots, its a free game as I see it.

  6. I still don’t get it, how any self respecting ‘new’ Hungarian citizen could accept the role of a pansy, who only needed to be shamelessly used against other Hungarians, who wants to end the orbanist madness and restore democratic values in the country.

    My best guess is, that the only information to reach them comes from- or through the Fidesz ruled sources, so most of them isn’t really aware, what’s truly going on in mainland Hungary.

    There is a huge communications void gaping between the democratic opposition and the ‘out of Hungary’ Hungarians, what doesn’t seem to be filled by any way, – a miss, what cost dearly, I am sure about it.

  7. @spectator I think things are still better in Hungary than the “outskirts” of Slovakia, Karpathy or in Transylvania. Who would not want to live better life if it is promised? I would like to know how many Hungarians from Austria applied for their Hungarian citizenship or for that matter how many Hungarians applied from Bucharest? Are there any data on that? There are hundreds of Hungarians who apply each year in the green card lottery for the opportunity to work in the USA. Are those people “patriotic” to the USA? Of course not, but they looking for a better life, the benefits.

  8. Some1 :
    @spectator I think things are still better in Hungary than the “outskirts” of Slovakia, Karpathy or in Transylvania. Who would not want to live better life if it is promised? I would like to know how many Hungarians from Austria applied for their Hungarian citizenship or for that matter how many Hungarians applied from Bucharest? Are there any data on that? There are hundreds of Hungarians who apply each year in the green card lottery for the opportunity to work in the USA. Are those people “patriotic” to the USA? Of course not, but they looking for a better life, the benefits.

    I have no problem to understand this part, and I have no problem with people coming to Hungary for better life, – good luck to find it.
    However, who applied for citizenship based on patriotic sentiment and keeps on living in their country of origin / residence, has precious little alternative information regarding the true situation in the country which they going to influence with their absentee ballots, only the state (read: Orbán) approved version.
    Isn’t that strange, if they will vote for Orbán, don’t you think?

  9. enuff :
    Troll or not troll, I find “tweets” from Po’k disrupting my flow of reading the more valuable comments.
    Perhaps s/he could consider another way of posting?

    May I suggest Lex Pok: Two comments in a row is prohibited. Would also teach commenters to proofread before posting in stead of following up with corrections.

Comments are closed.