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Clash over preliminary voter registration

September 26th, 2012

A leading LMP official thinks that at the end of the day there will be no compulsory voter registration in Hungary, while a moderate conservative commentator argues that the law will pass and will not do any harm to free elections.

On Galamus, Gergely Karácsony, a leading LMP deputy suggests that if participation at the elections is made conditional on preliminary registration, as planned by the governing majority in Parliament, then democracy itself will be in jeopardy in Hungary. He argues that the bill submitted by pro-government MPs on September 18 breaks the European Human Rights Charter, and as such will be annulled by the Constitutional Court, even if the principle of preliminary registration is enshrined in the Basic Law, as planned. He also believes the matter will harm Fidesz’s own interests, since many people will “discover how the ruling party is trying to damage the institutions of democracy”.

In Heti Válasz, Attila Michnai pours scorn on “papers once in the vanguard of quality journalism” for being “hysterical” about the planned registration system, and contends that it will broaden rather than restrict voters’ rights. In fact, he continues, preliminary registration is meant to “ensure the right to vote free of anti-democratic influences” (by which he probably means taking voters by bus to polling stations and/or buying their votes).

He likens the planned system to the compulsory 30 day delay before a marriage can take place after the couple registers with the authorities. People have an unalienable right to get married, Michnai argues, and still no politicians would ever dream of staging a hunger strike against the 30 day rule. (The reference is to former left-wing PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s one week fast in front of the Parliament building earlier this month. See BudaPost, September 12.)

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