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Fidesz finds it wiser to drop voter registration

January 5th, 2013

A centrist analyst explains how the government had to find a balance between political gains and losses after the decision of the Constitutional Court.

After declaring mandatory voter-registration unconstitutional on formal grounds (See BudaPost, December 31), on Friday the Hungarian Constitutional Court scrapped it altogether. Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán immediately announced that there would be no voter registration for 2014. The rule scrapped by the Constitutional Court would have required all Hungarians who intend to vote to register well before election day.

One day before the Court’s decision, but taking it practically for granted, Gábor Török analysed on his blog the choices before the government in the event that – as was widely expected – the Constitutional Court would strike down voter-registration. Török reminds his readers that it was President János Áder who submitted the text for constitutional review, starting the process that ended with the ruling on Friday. “It is Áder, if anyone, who CÖF (the organizers of the pro-government Peace Walks) should attack now”. (CÖF threatened a few days ago that in case a major demonstration against registration was organized by the left-wing opposition, they would not let demonstrators near the building of Parliament). If Áder had signed the draft into law, it would have been much more difficult for the Court to examine it, Török argued. He speculated that the government had to decide how much it had to gain and how much it might lose by dropping the idea of pre-registration or insisting on it and enshrining it into the constitution to make it untouchable by the Constitutional Court. In the latter case, the potential gains would have been to keep many of the undecided away from the polls. On the other hand, such a confrontation with the Constitutional Court would damage their image and open a prolonged battle over basic democratic values before the elections. Török (writing before the announcement by Mr Rogán on Friday) ended his piece by advising the government to drop compulsory pre-registration but expected the government to hold on to it ”until their last breath.”

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