Some citizens are more equal than others

I simply can’t understand the Hungarian opposition’s lack of initiative and its sluggish reactions to unacceptable actions that are being taken day in and day out by Fidesz and the Fidesz-ruled parliament. Often, opposition politicians wake up only when a government official reveals by a slip of the tongue the real intention of a piece of legislation. A good example of this kind of opposition lethargy is its recent discovery that the government is up to no good with its laws governing the voting rights of new Hungarian citizens who were born and lived all their lives in one of the neighboring countries. No opposition politicians raised the possibility of electoral fraud until the head of the National Election Commission made the mistake of revealing some of the details of the voting procedures contemplated by the government. Then suddenly the politicians of the democratic opposition woke up. But, for Pete’s sake, the particulars of the electoral law have been known for months. Where were these people when the proposal was duly voted into law sometime in December?

I wrote about some possible problems with the absentee ballots on July 29 after Ilona Pálffy, the government official in question, made the mistake of outlining the procedure in terms that made it clear that the safety of the ballots cannot be guaranteed. It will be extremely easy to manipulate the ballots of dual citizens. It took another two weeks for the opposition to discover that there are serious problems with the voting rights of Hungarian citizens living abroad.

Currently perhaps as many as half a million Hungarian citizens work abroad. This number is a guesstimate, but the true number is surely more than 300,000, the number of dual citizens in the neighboring countries. And while these dual citizens can vote via absentee ballot, Hungarians working abroad must vote in person either in Hungary or at a Hungarian embassy or consulate. Let’s take, for example, Great Britain since it has a large Hungarian presence. In the United Kingdom both the Hungarian embassy and the consulate are in London. There are no consulates anywhere else.  So if a Hungarian lives in Glasgow and would like to vote he would have to travel to London, more than a six-hour trip by rail. And we’d better not mention Northern Ireland.

The situation is slightly better in Germany but not much. There a Hungarian citizen can vote either in Berlin or in Munich. In the United States there are three places you can vote: Washington, New York, and Los Angeles.  If you happen to live in Kansas City you can look forward to a 2,000 km trip to New York City. You are even worse off in Canada where there are a lot of Hungarians. There you can vote only in Ottawa; the distance between Vancouver and Ottawa is 3,538 km. For sake of comparison the Hungarian government maintains four consulates in Romania: in Bucharest, Cluj/Kolozsvár, Miercurea-Ciuc/Csíkszereda, and Constanta. Of course, this comparison doesn’t really speak to the issue since Hungarian dual citizens in Romania don’t have to show up in person at one of these consulates.

Fidesz obviously doesn’t want Hungarian citizens living in the West to vote in the forthcoming elections. I don’t think they’re focused on votes coming from Canada and the U.S. What worries them is those recent emigrants to Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. who left the Orbán government behind. Their connection to Hungary, family and friends is much more intense and direct than that of earlier emigrants to North America. Moreover, most of them left Hungary recently because of economic hardship, and most of them seem to be satisfied with their new circumstances. They find life in Great Britain and Germany much more pleasant and career opportunities more merit-based. There is a good likelihood that a great majority of these people would not vote for Fidesz.

And there’s another reason to discourage these potentially anti-Fidesz Hungarians in the West from voting. A Romanian-Hungarian dual citizen can vote only for party lists while Hungarians living in the West but with a valid address in Hungary can theoretically vote for both individual candidates who represent a district and for party lists.

All citizens are equal / www.presseurope.eu

All citizens are equal / http://www.presseurope.eu

This blatant discrimination against Hungarian emigrants in the West was introduced as an amendment to the electoral law. It was an afterthought. I suspect that Fidesz figured out that the number of Hungarians seeking employment abroad was growing by leaps and bounds and that if these people can vote as easily as the by-and-large pro-Fidesz crowd in Romania and Serbia their actions might counterbalance the gains coming from the Romanian-Hungarian vote. In that case, the whole exercise of giving the vote to Hungarians in the neighboring countries would have been for naught.

The opposition was asleep at the switch when the Fidesz amendment was approved. It was only today that Gergely Karácsony on behalf of Együtt 2014-PM announced that he is planning to submit an amendment to the electoral law that would put an end to this discrimination against Hungarians temporarily living in countries of the European Union.

The answer from the other side came in no time. Gergely Gulyás, who is deeply involved with constitutional and electoral issues, said that he considers Karácsony’s proposed amendment a desperate move on the part of the opposition forces. The opposition already knows that they will lose the election so they are now trying to convince the world that their loss is the sole result of electoral fraud. He claimed that the Hungarian electoral law ensures equal opportunity to all Hungarian citizens. Well, you can judge for yourself whether a Hungarian citizen living in Great Britain has the same opportunity to cast his vote as his counterpart in Romania.

I highly doubt that Fidesz will be willing to change the existing law that clearly favors them. At least this is how I interpreted Gulyás’s words.

52 comments

  1. All the reasons and explanations you gave make me share Paul’s and tappanch’s expectation that Orbánistan is here to stay. As I see no rioting in the streets for many another year, I think we’ll have to wait until this regime simply implodes – as it eventually will. But I’ll eat my hat if it is ever voted out of office in my lifetime.

  2. What can be the truth?
    Are the opposition politicians detached from reality?

    All people must be activated to produce a leadership team.

    Too many otherwise intelligent Hungarians are still behind the national shame, called Orban.
    It is hard to explain it by normal thinking.

  3. OT. Apart from a few other things I observed a new type of traffic anarchy in Budapest: mountain-bikes flashing past people and cars using pedestrian zebra crossings at break-neck speed, cars coming out of nowhere to plant themselves in front of you at a red light, only to cross three lanes with screetching tires when the lights turn red/yellow. This can’t be only the heat. This is the beginning of some kamikaze mentality.

  4. There were so many amendments at various times to the election law that it is easy to get lost. On the other hand, the opposition MPs are paid to keep track exactly of these Fidesz tricks.

    Fidesz promulgated 726 laws and amendments in the last 3 years.

    I have found 10 distinct laws that deal with the national elections in their titles! (There may even be more amendments hidden under other titles)

    #19; 2010.06.21
    #20; 2010.06.21.

    #248; 2011.07.11.
    #353; 2011.12.23.

    #602; 2013.03.05.
    #625; 2013.04.08.

    #676; 2013.06.10.
    #678; 2013.06.10.
    #719; 2013.07.04.
    #721; 2013.07.05.

    The list is available at
    http://parlament.hu/internet/plsql/ogy_stat.stat_torv_int?P_CKL=39&P_KIHIR=I

    One can read the current election law on any given day at

    http://net.jogtar.hu/jr/gen/hjegy_doc.cgi?docid=A1300036.TV

  5. Eva, you are right, not just the citizenship law, but the whole regulation of the elections is outrageous. Hungarians live and work all over the world and those outside the neighboring countries (or even Europe) are openly disenfranchised. I have been working in the US for the last fifteen years, kept my Hungarian passport and citizenship and have not voted in national elections since. I understood perfectly the reasoning behind the old election law that the politics of the country had to be decided by the people who live and pay taxes there. And having chosen to live permanently out of Hungary, I accepted it.
    There are several thousands of Hungarians like me who moved into this country in last 23 years due to their work and never lost connections to their land of birth. I find it preposterous that the government assumes, that we, with close relatives, after having inhabited several decades in Hungary, have less right to vote than someone who lives in the neighboring countries and might have shown some great-grandparent of Hungarian origin, but otherwise has never set foot to that country. If citizenship and voting rights are based on language, or origin, “blood” or attachment, and emotional connections to that piece of land (all, somewhat contentious notions…) then why are we pushed aside compared with our fellow citizens? I cannot see other reason than that of political expediency: latest Hungarian expatriates might not support this government with their votes.

  6. Yes, but at at the same time, Orban is trying to court 56er immigrants and their children living all over the world, most of whom I have to say do like Orban, some for lack of enough information and/or from a gut reaction to oppose anything that is liberal or left in Hungary because they still fear the Communists. To this end the government has sent 47 “community organizers” all over the world to help the hungarian diaspora “strengthen their hungarian identity”, to the tune of 2X airplane tickets from Budapest to wherever, money towards their rent, monthly 350 000 ft plus various extras, and 200 000 ft while in Hungary training for this trip and when they go back to present their report. Besides teaching at the hungarian schools and such (things that the communites already do themselves, for free….) they also help spread “correct information about Hungary” and help the community members to get their hungarian citizenship, get a hungarian passport, and of course, vote. At the very least, they are collecting information about the various communities.

  7. Yul, yes, this is very true. On the other hand, I really wonder who many 56-ers actually activated their citizenship. Because I want you do know that this “activation” is not that simple. I did try. Here I’m who still has her old Hungarian ID before 1956. At the timewhen it was filled out I was fourteen years old. It clearly says that I’m a Hungarian citizen. I did phone the New York consulate (this was still during the Antall-Boross government). I was told that I need my parents’ birth certificate, my parents’ marriage certificate, my own birth certificate. I told the woman: “Why do I need all this when I still have my old ID.” Answer: “It doesn’t mater, I sill need all that stuff.” So, I got all these documents thanks to my good younger cousin who went from office to office in Hungary and got all the necessary documentation. Then I was supposed to pay something like $300,00 to start the whole procedure. Meanwhile I heard from others that the whole thing takes more than one year only to be able to vote in New York at the consulate

    I’m lucky. I live in Connecticut and therefore it takes me only an hour and a half to travel to New York by train. Well, not quite that simple. First, I have to drive to New Haven (more than half an hour) to the New Haven train station. Then, if I’m lucky, I can park by car for the day at the garage next to the station for $18,00 for the day. I can pay for a return ticket between New Haven and New York ($106.00). I can take a cab from Grand Central to the Hungarian Consulate and back. Then I can get on the train and travel back to New Haven and from there a half an hour drive back to Bethany, CT.

    Please, tell me, how many people will decide that this is worth it? I didn’t. I gave up the whole idea. And I’m one of those who wouldn’t vote to Fidesz. Either in 1998 or in 2010.

  8. Eva: “Please, tell me, how many people will decide that this is worth it?”

    Now that surprises me. Eva, I believe that you are doing a great job for the country you emigrated from. You may have your reasons not to apply for citizenship again. But what is needed now for Hungarians who wish to change something is to find it worthwhile to spend time, energy and money. And vote.

  9. @Kirsten. I cannot exactly pinpoint what I dislike about your implied criticism of Éva. To change nationality has so many practical, emotional and economic (just think of the IRS) aspects that it is really difficult to decide in each individual case what to do. It also depends on whether you are going to a country that sees itself as a country of emigration or one that actually prefers to see immigrants as “guest workers” who when they overstay their welcome should, please, leave again.

    Three cases in point: I have been living in Switzerland for almost 50 years, but I am still a German, and not because I’m proud of it. I can vote – and do – in German Federal elections. But I prefer EU citizenship and just don’t want to be a Swiss – and not merely on paper, as I would necessarily be. My next-younger brother married a Swiss and became a teacher at a Swiss “gymnasium”. He became Swiss. My daughter who was born in Switzerland kept her German passport and gained Swiss nationality only in her late 30s when it became possible for Germans to hold dual citizenship. In addition she is married to a Swiss and is a professor at a Swiss university.

    So you see motivations and circumstances can be quite different. And just to run the whole hog to participate in a rigged vote Orbán is winning anyway seems to me a waste. The Hungarians in Hungary should vote, have referendums, etc. But they will stay at home. Why should Éva reach out and suffer all the aggravation in order to make a point in a system where those points don’t count anymore? Anyway, I can’t share your gung-ho spirit. I’d rather Éva keeps gathering her strength to keep this extraordinary blog going.

  10. The opposition, the MSZP is also recipient of the dole and they get is, as they were paying the Fidesz, when they were in power. Hungarian politics and the entire Government is tainted with corruption (not only monetary, but keeping quiet about each others crimes) and they are in complete moral decay. Please ask yourself, what is the benefit for an MSZP politician, if the Fidesz would loose the election? One thing for sure, he/she would not have a clue, how to fix the problems galore they would inherit.

  11. Minusio, I wrote explicitly that I do not question Eva’s personal decision. What I did find unfortunate is that she wrote how complicated she found the whole procedure so that she gave up. I just made a connection to what I hear from people who are Hungarian citizens living abroad and who do not want to vote because this is “too complicated”.

  12. @bubala51. So you would also say that Fidesz drives Hungary against the wall – all on its own, right?

    I happen to agree that this course is inevitable.

    But as someone in this blog asked: Who is going to pick up the pieces once Orbánistan crashed?

  13. @Kirsten. I read your comment slightly differently. But I stand corrected.

    Is it really fair to allege that ‘people who are Hungarian citizens living abroad and who do not want to vote because this is “too complicated”‘? How do you know they would not want to vote if it was easier? To my mind this was what Éva was exactly writing about: Voting is made difficult for those who could threaten the Orbán equilibrium. The others get murky preferential treatment.

  14. @Eva, I think Fidesz made the whole procedure a lot less complicated than it was in the 90s when you tried. This was one of the things they said they changed, making it easier to get Hungarian citizenship for those who can prove they are Hungarians. How much easier it got I don’t know as I don’t have first-hand experience.

  15. @Kirsten, I think quite a few Hungarian-Americans agree that if ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries can vote in national elections and take part in the decision what direction the government in Budapest should take, then expats everywhere should have the same right and do the same especially if they feel some responsibility towards the country. The Orbán government does everything to disenfranchise voter groups like recent expats who might vote greater number for the opposition. With the new election law the situation has turned really different with respect to previous elections. So it might well happen that these expats will try to go and vote in person at the consulates. I will personally try to take some carloads of potential voters from the Carolinas to the DC consulate. It may well happen that a couple thousand Hungarian expats would show up on election day, so we might create a real logistical problem there. I would love to see that…

  16. GabeGab & @Kirsten: Excuse me to butt in with my personal opinion. Few people hate the mini-Mussolini viktor and the dictatorship in Hungary as I do. There are days, I spend 6-10 hours to put info on Facebook and the net. However, I decided not to vote in 2014, (I never did before, although I could) even now, because I don’t live in Hungary. It is not only for the logical reason, that many of us think, that we don’t want to influence the lives of others, where we don’t benefit or suffer from our decisions. I don’t want to vote, because it is the responsibility of the 9.6 million Hungarians in Hungary to stand up for themselves and decide their own future. Part of the reason, why a populist dictatorship could be easily set up by a relatively unsophisticated brute bum is because a very large number of Hungarians don’t want to be responsible for their own future. They don’t take any advice, they think they are the greatest thing God created and they know everything there is to know. So far every time they got into deep trouble, when they realized, that they cannot solve, they always looked for help, or sided with a major power, (Austria, Germany, Russia, EU) trying to outdo those after awhile. There is nobody to help them now. Therefore, Hungarians must develop a sense unity for a common GOOD, set aside meaningless squabbles, they have to depend on themselves. There is no major power, which is dictating the politics in Hungary, nobody cares much about them, the viktor made enemies of everybody close and far. Therefore they have to make the best of what they got on their own. Once every child must grow up, even if he/she is a Hungarian.

  17. I

    bubala51 :GabeGab & @Kirsten: Excuse me to butt in with my personal opinion. Few people hate the mini-Mussolini viktor and the dictatorship in Hungary as I do… Part of the reason, why a populist dictatorship could be easily set up by a relatively unsophisticated brute bum is because a very large number of Hungarians don’t want to be responsible for their own future. They don’t take any advice, they think they are the greatest thing God created and they know everything there is to know. So far every time they got into deep trouble, when they realized, that they cannot solve, they always looked for help, or sided with a major power, (Austria, Germany, Russia, EU) trying to outdo those after awhile. There is nobody to help them now. Therefore, Hungarians must develop a sense unity for a common GOOD, set aside meaningless squabbles, they have to depend on themselves. There is no major power, which is dictating the politics in Hungary, nobody cares much about them, the viktor made enemies of everybody close and far…

    It is not true, that nobody outside Hungary cares for this country. The UE does care as shown lately by the Tavares report. However only Hungarians could vote out V.Orbán.
    The preaching of National Unity means those who make as members of the current ruling mafia millions and those poor who even when it is 40 C are not getting water should unite.

    The Hungarian opposition is without any ideas, it is without real initiatives and I suspect afraid to rule after Orbán & Co ruined the country. SNAFU

  18. It seems indeed shocking to make such a difference between Hungarian citizens living abroad. Yet, it is important to understand what the discrimination is based upon.

    If the distinction is related to the country of residence (between citizens residing in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Croatia – and those living in the rest of the world), at first glance it is not uncommon on principle. After all, if I’m not mistaken German citizens living in European Council member states can vote on German elections, while German citizens living elsewhere cannot; this is arguably a stronger discrimination than those related to the electoral process.

    Yet, such a peculiar geographical division (pre-Trianon vs Rest of the World) will not play well by the Council of Europe nor the EU.

    First, it could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. It will be hard for the current Hungarian Government to argue why Hungarian residents in certain EC member states are denied the possibility of postal voting, while Hungarian residents in other member states are allowed to.

    Second, it won’t play well – again – by the EU either. Such dispositions could be attacked in regard to the Freedom of installation principle, as Hungary actually discriminates its citizens according to their chosen place of residence in a EU member state. As far as I know, such discriminations are only valid when different bilateral agreements between States exist – yet there have been no bilateral agreements regarding voting rights between Hungary and the pre-Trianon states belonging to the EU, so there is no reason why a Hungarian citizen residing in Italy should be granted lesser rights that one who resides in Romania.

    Last, it will also be hard for the Government to plead practical necessities, as there are probably more registered Hungarian residents in the UK or Germany than in Croatia. So the question is: what is the opposition doing about it?

  19. It’s really funny in a way how Fidesz has been making laws for the “side effects” – in this case making it really difficult for some people to vote/making it so much easier for those who are on their side.
    Hopefully the European courts will have a look at that.

    As a counterexample:

    In Germany, when elections are on the way, people who have a residence in Germany get a postcard some weeks in advance – if you plan to be abroad or on holiday on election day you just sign it and send it back and then you get your papers so you can vote by letter.

    Even if you are away most of the time you can manage that, I’ve done it regularly since I spend half of my time in Hungary and don’t want to make my travel plans according to German election days …
    As far as I know most EU countries have a similar solution.

  20. @Marcel Dé
    “It seems indeed shocking to make such a difference between Hungarian citizens living abroad. Yet, it is important to understand what the discrimination is based upon.

    Yet, such a peculiar geographical division (pre-Trianon vs Rest of the World) will not play well by the Council of Europe nor the EU.”

    Actually there is a third group – the Hungarians in Hungary – who obviously less equal than the pre-Trianon residents, for a reason I guess.
    In my opinion it’s already ample reason to take the case to court, if only was someone with enough knowledge and courage to do it.

  21. Kirsten :
    Eva: “Please, tell me, how many people will decide that this is worth it?”
    Now that surprises me. Eva, I believe that you are doing a great job for the country you emigrated from. You may have your reasons not to apply for citizenship again. But what is needed now for Hungarians who wish to change something is to find it worthwhile to spend time, energy and money. And vote.

    Kristen, being a real Hungarian in the true meaning of the word and decidedly belonging to the present day Hungary by applying for citizenship is two very different thing, and they diverge exponentially, I’m afraid.

    Speaking of myself, I have hardly anything in common – besides (partly) a language – with the “special” Hungarian way of thinking of today, particularly when it comes to general human and cultural values. (I said ‘partly’ about the language, because I still use correct Hungarian, as opposed to many of them at home, including journalists and politicians as well). It doesn’t mean, that I don’t care – unfortunately I do – but I don’t feel home in Hungary anymore.

    You see, when people seriously arguing over if there is a right for personal hygiene – as in washing yourself and your clothes – is actually the unlawful use of the communal water, (by those “stinky Gipsies”) hence it must be limited, when the Fidesz-cock – I mean rooster, but not the “little red” one – on the top of his crap-heap actually can do what he’d just done, I feel rather like disown Hungary once for all.

    I can not, of course, but I hope, you see what I mean.

  22. Nothing will happen and nobody will do anything about it. Politically, the only valid basis for a rejection of the results would be if on the election day there would be open and undisputed fraud, like casting forged ballots.

    These tricks take place well before the elections and are simply too complex for any observer or politician or the population in general to comprehend to care about. So Germany or France or Austria cannot reject the results politically if they have not complained before, they have to accept the results absent blatant fraud.

    But Fidesz is full of lawyers, who know exactly that nobody is interested in the nuances of election law, it’s too messy, too complicated. Do you wanna hear the nuances of the Polish election law? I don’t, it’s too boring, I ‘d rather watch another episode of Borgen. Impossible to explain the situation in two sentences, so it might as well not exist.

    The two sentence rule in politics provides that if something is such that you can’t explain it in two simple sentence, it does not exist, people, whether they are the general public or foreign politicians, will not get it.

    Fidesz will win in a landslide and people will be angry about the opposition how could it have been so stupid to let it all happen.

  23. spectator :Actually there is a third group – the Hungarians in Hungary – who obviously less equal than the pre-Trianon residents, for a reason I guess.In my opinion it’s already ample reason to take the case to court, if only was someone with enough knowledge and courage to do it.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but since Hungarians in Hungary can use either bureau voting or absentee ballot I don’t see why they are “less equal” in that respect.

    I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know if what I posted above is valid at all. If it is, and since wolfi also mentioned going to court, there may be two problems. The first one is the delay (an ECHR ruling for instance may intervene… after the election), and the second one is the overall weakness of Hungarian civil society. I assume such proceedings are more efficient when they’re started by NGOs, or with NGO support. Courage is good, but self-organization is in my opinion much better.

    It’s a vicious circle : Fidesz’s top-down, ‘national values’-based, reshaping of the country’s institutions is weakening an already under-developed civil society. And judging by the number of strings they’re trying to pull, their goal seems to be another 2/3rds majority next year. I don’t think they’ll achieve it, but should I be wrong then Isten, áldd meg a magyart.

  24. Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) :

    spectator :Actually there is a third group – the Hungarians in Hungary – who obviously less equal than the pre-Trianon residents, for a reason I guess.In my opinion it’s already ample reason to take the case to court, if only was someone with enough knowledge and courage to do it.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but since Hungarians in Hungary can use either bureau voting or absentee ballot I don’t see why they are “less equal” in that respect.

    Actually I may have missed something here, but so far I thought, that mainland Hungarians can not vote by mail, – as opposed to their fellow citizens on the other sides of the border, who can even send their votes even an masse, with no need for personal participation. In Hungary you can only vote by doing it in person or requesting the mobile ballot boxes to your home – not what many people used to do out in the farmlands as much I know.

    In my point of view this is discriminatory, giving unilateral advantage to one certain group over others, while nominally they have equal rights.

    Then again, I may be wrong and everything nice and rosy in Orbanland – we’ll see.

  25. Gulyas Gergely is a nice looking boy. Being still influenced by old world values, I presumed that “Truth is Beauty; and Beauty is Truth”. Sadly, Hungarians have perverted this too. Over the past three years, one has nought but to realize the sad truth: Ethics, Morals, Principals no longer exist, in themselves, in the Turul state–there verissimilitudes only serve as political tools.

    In a recent copy of Contstruction International, I’ve noticed that after the many pages of reports on the multitude of stadiums in Hungary, there lay a small item tucked away in a far corner, that construction has begun in Dante’s Hell, beneath the lowest circle of Hell…a completely new domain….reserved for Hungarians.

  26. Gulyás Gergely is a nice looking boy. Being still influenced by old world values, I presumed that “Truth is Beauty; and Beauty is Truth”

    Then I recommend my modified line of lyrics from Skunk Anansie’s Hedonism:
    “Just because you look good, doesn’t make you right, oh no”

    Actually, there is this special breed, you know…
    They already sound the same, even start to look the same, the same manners, the same vocabulary – you name it. Pretty soon the scenes from “Fahrenheit 451” feels quite real too, just wait and see.

    “I hope, you’re feeling happy now”

  27. @Kirsten: While I completely understand your desire for anyone that has a shot at voting to vote, your naivete about the possibility of any of their votes being counted is staggering, as I know you are a regular reader of, and contributor to, these discussions. Whom do you think is working in the Hungarian Embassies and Consulates all over the world – Fidesz supporters! I have a friend living here in the US who has lived here for many years, but has never given up her Hungarian citizenship. She refuses to vote, because she does not believe that her vote would ever reach the result counters, either by mail or in person at an Embassy or Consulate. And, she is very active with the opposition. What makes you think any vote cast from abroad will not be opened and “lost in transit” if they are not for Fidesz? It has been made perfectly clear that nothing is beyond OV’s unquenchable thirst for power and money.

  28. (Back in Toronto.) First of all, I am a dual citizen. I do pay my taxes in Canada, and some of my taxes in Hungary after my small business there (the treaty between the two countries helps me not to be taxed for both countries after my Hungarian interest). I do have a registered address in Hungary also. I have my parents and other relatives in Hungary who I may need to support if all goes down the drain. I believe that I have more right to vote in the Hungarian election that those Hungarian citizens who are also outside the borders of the country and do not pay any taxes there, have no permanent address, and let’s face it, no families there. Why is it that Fidesz makes it easy for one group of Hungarians to participate in the election and very difficult to an other group? Simply because those in the neighbouring countries with nothing to loose will support Fidesz.
    As far as Gulyas goes.. he should pull out his head from the behind of Orban and he would be able top see that it is not the opposition who is afraid of the election but Fidesz. If they would not be afraid they would make it equally easy to all Hungarians to participate, and they would not have to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite the election law based on the latest surveys.

  29. Ms KKA, the problem in my interpretation is the following: Both the approaches of Hungarian politicians and of the public including most of its ideas about politics (everything is rigged, there is only self-interest, everything is doomed anyway), are not conducive to democracy. Simple as that. So if I took everything seriously what I read here, I would just exclude Hungary from those countries where it makes even sense to think about another political system than autocracy. And say: do not even try, exclude them from the EU and close the borders as quickly as you can. All my comments are meant as a support for those people who still believe (as I do) that it always makes sense to TRY. That with the stubbornness of Hungarian ideas about eternal failure, wickedness and so forth, it is an uphill battle (squared), I have no illusions.

  30. Kirsten :
    Ms KKA, the problem in my interpretation is the following: Both the approaches of Hungarian politicians and of the public including most of its ideas about politics (everything is rigged, there is only self-interest, everything is doomed anyway), are not conducive to democracy.

    Exactly! The way that the election laws have been written and re-written, and amended,then amended again, there will be nothing resembling democracy, come the next election. OV and his fellow Mafiosi will see to that! And, as had been said on here many times, as long as the general public has enough for sausages, they could care less who’s running things.
    It is the job of the opposition to make them care, and they have fallen on their faces in that regard.

  31. spectator :Actually I may have missed something here, but so far I thought, that mainland Hungarians can not vote by mail, – as opposed to their fellow citizens on the other sides of the border, who can even send their votes even an masse, with no need for personal participation. In Hungary you can only vote by doing it in person or requesting the mobile ballot boxes to your home – not what many people used to do out in the farmlands as much I know.In my point of view this is discriminatory, giving unilateral advantage to one certain group over others, while nominally they have equal rights.Then again, I may be wrong and everything nice and rosy in Orbanland – we’ll see.

    Hungarian nationals who are also residents in Hungary can still vote by absentee ballot, without justification (though they have to request a certificate beforehand).

    So your point is, I guess, they cannot use straight postal voting. You’re right. However I doubt this would be considered discriminatory, as many countries in Europe allow for different voting processes for mainland & abroad citizens. The innovation here lies in the differential treatment between citizens abroad, based upon a geographical distinction that bears no relationship to either EU or CoE membership.

    But then, since the tax on “non-Magyar dogs” we know that Fidesz creativity in those matters is limitless…

  32. Ms KKA: If you believe it is the opposition’s job to make people care, what is then so wrong in asking people who have a vote to exercise it…? Political opposition is not an abstract term…

  33. @bubala51, Kirsten, Some1. Kirsten is right: Once more: Hungarian expats should get to the consulates and VOTE!!!
    1. With the new election law the situation has changed. The old reasoning: “it is those 9.6 million peoples’ job there to decide their local politics” is NOT a valid argument any more. Expats are no less qualified for a vote than ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries (unless you are willing to play according to Orbán’s “Blut und Boden” logic).
    2. @Ms KKA. It is fully possible that people working at the consulates are Fidesz adherents, but they know pretty well that if any vote-rigging from their part is revealed, it could be much more damaging than the leverage Orbán might gain from fixing some votes. They want to stay employed in the (unlikely) case as well, when the opposition prevails.

  34. Can somebody tell me how can we register to vote (absentee or in person) in the US? We still have a registered domicile in Hungary – never officially announced that we moved abroad. Will I get into trouble for that if I register to vote abroad?

  35. @Mutt. In previous elections you had to get a sort of absentee license from your local election district (by your Hungarian “residence” address – whatever it has been). Any relative or local connection could obtain this for you and send it over to your US address. I think you needed that one and your passport/ID to vote. (I have never voted in the US either before…) My feeling is that these regulations have changed with the new. Perhaps the passport is sufficient. (Characteristically there is zero information about this on the Consulate website.) We have to research this.

  36. @ Mutt (and others) who are interested in the Hungarian Voting
    http://www.valasztas.hu/hu/ovi/index.html

    Now, the small print says that if you have online access (ugyfelkapu), you can request your name to be added online. That is if you have Hungarian address I assume (I do have access to the online module).
    What I cannot figure out is how to vote if I am not going to be in Hungary when the election takes place but I do have Hungarian registered address.

    You can follow how many people registered from how many countries up to date.
    Of course Romania and Serbia beats them all. Does anyone knows how many Hungarians live in Austria? THere are only one person so far who registered from there.

    2013. augusztus 12-ig levélben beérkezett kérelmek száma
    összesen, értesítési cím szerinti bontásban
    Ország Kérelmek száma
    (db)
    Amerikai Egyesült Államok 17
    Ausztrália 1
    Belgium 1
    Dánia 3
    Finnország 8
    Franciaország 7
    Görögország 1
    Horvátország 4
    Írország 3
    Izrael 7
    Kanada 1
    Magyarország 19
    Nagy-Britannia és Észak-Ír E.K. 10
    Németország 97
    Norvégia 1
    Olaszország 4
    Románia 534
    Spanyolország 1
    Svájc 32
    Svédország 20
    Szerbia 227
    Szlovénia 4

    Kettős állampolgárságot tiltó országok 26

    Az értesítést e-mailben kéri
    E-mail 292

    Az értesítést faxon kéri
    Fax 0

    Nem adott meg értesítési címet
    Cím nélküli 13
    Összesen: 1333

  37. Eva S. Balogh :
    To Some1′s question. Make a short little trip to Ottawa! That’s the only way if all remains unchanged as I fear it will.

    I was there for a month in May. If I only knew…..

  38. Some1: Now, the small print says that if you have online access (ugyfelkapu), you can request your name to be added online. That is if you have Hungarian address I assume (I do have access to the online module).

    You can apply for the ugyfelkapu abroad ( Hungarian address is not a requirement) or at an Okmany Iroda in Hungary Only you need to do this in person. Once accepted you can vote online. However, you first to get an appointment with the embassy on the consulate (in so far it can be done at the consulate) and my experience is that it will take time.

    At the embassy they will ask for a username. Password will be sent to you and you need to change it immediately.

  39. @some1:

    You made a funny mistake it seems – there3’s 1 person from Ausztrália, none from Ausztria yet …
    That list is really interesting – almost 100 from Germany ?

  40. Well, I see my work here is done. There is no better way to motivate people than to present them with impossible odds. 😀

  41. wolfi :
    @some1:
    You made a funny mistake it seems – there3′s 1 person from Ausztrália, none from Ausztria yet …
    That list is really interesting – almost 100 from Germany ?

    bahahaha but then again, there is not a single application from Ausztria just yet….

    By the way when you call the Embassy or Consulate to inquire, your conversation is taped. I know when I call Applecare or Bell support they tape what you say “for training purposes”. I wonder why they need to tape calls to Embassies or Consulates. I think that this gives possibility of distributing confidential information, and also limits the depth of inquiries. So if you call them and after they inform you that they will tape the conversation and you pursue, you actually “sign a waiver” on your privacy and confidentiality.

  42. According to Statistics Austria, there were 30.608 Hungarians living in Austria on 1.1.2012.

  43. @MarcelD1. Yes, unfortunately you are wrong. § 277-279 holds only if the “voter does not have any residential address in Hungary” (§ 266 (2).). Note that most expats keep their permanent Hungarian address. It is very difficult to get rid of that (to de-register from the country) and if one does it, it causes a lot of inconvenience. Plus even if one de-registers, I have no idea how one could prove that he/she does NOT have domicile in the country any more. By § 259 as in previous elections, these people must enroll through their local districts into the “consular registry” and then go to the consulate to vote in person. (In the US they should do it a day before the election day.)

  44. Thanks @ GabeGab. I didn’t understand the lakóhely / tartózkodási hely distinction… and the fact that the consulates were not mentioned anymore in another document related to postal voting (except for Serbia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania).

  45. @GabeGab: Since you seem to know, and understand more then most of us. I do have a registered address in Hungary. It is on my Hungarian Personal Identification. SInce it is unlikely that I will be in Hungary when the election takes place, how do I make sure that I can vote from Canada?

  46. @Some1. I am afraid the only way you can do it, is the same as used to be under the old law. 1. You have to ask a favor from some acquaintance who lives in Hungary, living close to your registered address (I think he/she need not be a relative). After the date of election date has been announced, but at least 8 days before that date he/she has to go to the local election office and ask for an “absentee permit” for you in order to vote in the Ottawa consulate. I assume they will issue an affidavit that your acquaintance can send you by mail. In the same time they send that info to the Ottawa consulate to enroll you into the “consular registry”. 2. The DAY BEFORE the election you have to go to the Ottawa consulate between 6 am and 7 pm and present your passport and affidavit to vote. (Note that since you have a registered address in Hungary, you supposed to be only “temporarily” out of country, even if that “temporarily” is more than 20 years….)

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