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Baja by-election – accusations

September 26th, 2013

A liberal weekly suggests it should not have come as a surprise that Lungo Drom activists drove Roma voters to the booths. A pro-government columnist, on the other hand, finds the allegation the apogee of a smear campaign that is a small-scale rehearsal for the real thing in 2014.

On September 22nd at a municipal by-election the Fidesz candidate beat the joint candidate of MSZP-Together-PM-DK by 61 votes or 6 percentage points (see BudaPost, September 25). A day after the elections accusations of cheating resurfaced, with a video captured by a PM activist which is seen by the opposition as proof that poor voters were driven to the polling stations by organizers.

Heti Világgazdaság reassembles several instances of past election results – as documented by the press – where Roma inhabited areas within certain districts returned Fidesz MPs or councilmen even where the majority vote was in favour of another party or candidate. The author also refers to an earlier Index video report where Roma voters explain, on camera, the particulars of the voting process and their rewards. There have been no repercussions, he notes, and the government side have become so emboldened that columnist Zsolt Bayer openly praised the Fidesz ally Lungo Drom Roma Association and the Roma voters for their help in Baja (see BudaPost, September 25). There is a no holds barred attitude in a cut-throat political competition, he concludes, but “the so-called left” is also responsible: they have nothing to offer to poor and underprivileged Roma “who quite justifiably think the only way to profit from the elections is to sell their votes”.

Magyar Nemzet’s Szabolcs Szerető describes the Baja elections as a first taste of the opposition alliance of 2014 – a prolonged hate-campaign with strong media support. Following the allegations that a bus stop was built by the home of the Fidesz mayor and the “lie” that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán did not dare to visit Baja, now “the fairness of the elections is also questioned”. Szerető thinks this will be the strategy of the united opposition in 2014: “they will invoke the new election system and the beyond-border vote and anything else they can think of”, he warns, ”and if they lose, we must prepare for a ruckus reaching as far as Brussels and Washington”.

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