Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Controversy over the new electoral system

November 30th, 2011

Népszabadság warns the government that its planned electoral reform may spark unprecedented international condemnation. Magyar Nemzet’s commentator, by way of contrast, argues that any charges of anti-democratic tendencies levelled against the government are pointless, as long as Fidesz remains by far the most popular political party.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság suggests that the new electoral system (see BudaPost, November 23) which will come into force by the end of the year will ignite a wave of widespread international protest. The left-wing daily quotes LMP leader András Schiffer who believes that under the new rules, opposition parties would need to garner 10 per cent more than the now governing Fidesz-KDNP, to force Fidesz into opposition. Népszabadság recalls what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Budapest earlier this year: the most important criterion of democracy is whether a government can be freely and fairly voted out by the electorate. “If it can’t, we are heading for big trouble. The uproar against the Media Act and the Church Law was just the beginning,” the left-wing daily warns.

Magyar Nemzet, on the other hand, contends in its editorial that the opposition is not in a position to win elections, regardless of the electoral system. The author, who uses the pen name Örs Tihanyi, and is believed to be an unidentified leading Fidesz official, points to the government’s decision to resume talks with the IMF, as “an unequivocal sign of a change in direction.” In other words, “the government has admitted that its measures haven’t been overly successful.”

Another disturbing event was the fact that Hungarian bonds were degraded to junk status by Moody’s last week. Nonetheless, at a by-election in Budapest, the Fidesz candidate won 58 per cent of the vote. The bulk of Fidesz supporters “have not altered their political preferences.” Tihanyi draws two conclusions from these events:

1. As long as the government enjoys such broad support, “polemics about how Fidesz is destroying the system of democratic institutions make no sense.”

2. Public trust is the government’s vital asset, and to be worthy of it, the government must “put the budget in order and tackle the crisis more effectively than it has so far.”

Tags: ,