A leading pro-government columnist urges the ruling party to admit its guilt in breaking campaign rules during the Baja local by-election, as nothing is more important for a party than being trustworthy.
In Heti Válasz, editor Gábor Borókai recalls that taking poor (mainly Roma) voters to polling stations by car, as well as other much nastier last-minute electoral techniques were introduced in Hungary by Ron Werber, the Socialist Party’s Israeli campaign adviser back in 2002. Therefore he finds it strange that MSZP leaders should pretend to be scandalised by the news that a by-election will have to be repeated in one district due to a “breach of the campaign silence”. In one district out of the five where voters had to choose a successor for a deceased city councillor, voters were transported in groups to the booths by a local pro-Fidesz Roma activist. (See BudaPost, September through October). He also describes a vote-rigging technique called “chain voting”, which, according to the testimony of an MSZP member was used during the parliamentary elections in 2002. The first member of the chain was expected not to cast his vote but submit the ballot, in exchange for a few thousand Forints, to a campaign activist, who ticked the MSZP candidate, then gave it to the second one, telling him to cast that vote and come back with his own, blank ballot, and so on. Now in the mirror of the Baja scandal, Borókai continues, left-wing leaders “should recognise themselves, and refrain from speaking out”.
The pro-government pundit however also deplores the reaction of Fidesz to what happened. He agrees that the opposition was wrong to describe this as ‘electoral fraud’, since the court correctly ruled that taking roups of people to the polling station ‘only’ amounts to a breach of the rule of the last day of campaign silence. But he finds it unacceptable that Fidesz spokesmen have repeatedly denied that their party is at fault by alleging that the court did not specify which party had broken the rules. Video footage available on the Internet, Borókai remarks, makes clear to anyone that it was Fidesz campaign activists who were busy transporting voters to the polling station. Fidesz hurts its own credibility by denying the obvious, he warns, adding that “nowadays, when politicians sell hope, nothing is more important than being trustworthy”.