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Transborder campaigning

January 22nd, 2013

While right-leaning columnists ridicule the Socialists for their new-found enthusiasm for Hungarian minorities abroad, journalists on the left suggest that Fidesz may have lost hope of gaining all minority Hungarian votes. A Hungarian analyst in Romania warns Hungary’s political élite against patronising attitudes.

Socialist leader Attila Mesterházy reiterates his earlier self-criticism in connection with a referendum in 2004 when the MSZP campaigned against easy accession to Hungarian citizenship for transborder ethnic Hungarians. (See BudaPost, January 18) He writes on his website that the new Socialist policy towards Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries does not involve exporting Hungarian political tensions. On the contrary, he promises to avoid favouring one minority party over others (Fidesz is repeatedly criticised by the MSZP for campaigning for a new political force led by a Fidesz ally, László Tőkés). The Socialist party Chairman promises to “build trust” among political parties in Romania and Hungary, by consulting national leaders and the Romanian Social Democrats on minority issues.

In Magyar Nemzet, Csaba Lukács remarks that while Mesterházy apologised for his party’s stance in the 2004 referendum,   that several Hungarians protested against his presence in Cluj, Transylvania’s number one urban centre.

On center-right Mandiner, a Transylvanian commentator enumerates all the mistakes Hungarians make when talking about ethnic Hungarian politics in Romania. He warns, first of all, that Hungarians in Romania are ”not one single mass” as politicians in Hungary would have us believe, they have their disparate preferences and political tastes. Second, minority Hungarians know perfectly well that despite all the talk about 15 million Hungarians (the presumed number of all people of Hungarian origin around the world), politicians in fact only have the 10 million within Hungary in mind. He warns that Hungarians in Romania are a minority in a nation state and Hungarian actors had better consider how their statements will be interpreted by majority Romanians.

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai suspects that the government will not make voting easy for Hungarians working in Western Europe – two hundred thousand of them, he calculates. While Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén tours Romania and other neighbouring countries to collect votes, the Prime Minister’s campaign advisors may have concluded that most of the Hungarians working abroad cannot be considered pro-government voters. Hargitai speculates that is what prompted Viktor Orbán to state that the decision of the Constitutional Court to annul voter registration makes it impossible for minority and diaspora voters to participate in the Hungarian elections – a false claim, the commentator adds, as the ruling only applies to resident Hungarian citizens. (The government will table the new bill on electoral procedure in February. For the ruling of the Constitutional Court on voter registration see BudaPost, December 31, 2012 and January 5, 2013.)

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