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Ruminations on electoral rules

April 9th, 2014

A left-wing columnist accuses the government indirectly of electoral fraud for devising a new electoral law tailor-made to favour Fidesz. The leading left-wing daily, however, also warns against blaming the defeat of the opposition on the new electoral system. A centrist analyst points out that although the new set of rules was somewhat more favourable to Fidesz than the previous ones, with the actual numbers of votes cast for its candidates, the incumbent government would have won under any democratic electoral system.

In Népszabadság, Judit N. Kósa accuses Fidesz of adjusting the electoral rules to its own interests. “We know that Fidesz rigged the elections by adopting rules which help them gain as much power as possible,” the left-wing columnist claims. She adds that the abolition of the two-round system compelled the left-wing parties to cooperate before the election, and condemned them to an awkward blame game after their defeat. In an aside, she notes that the turnout was just above sixty per cent, and even among those who went to the polling stations, the governing party was only supported by four out of ten voters (44.4 per cent), which Kósa interprets as a sign that Hungarians are fed up with PM Orbán.

Interestingly, the same daily notes in a front page editorial that voters could have removed PM Orbán from office, under the same electoral rules. Leaders of the left still do not seem to get the clear message sent by the electorate, Népszabadság maintains. If the left fails to understand the reasons behind their defeat, they will miss the chance to reinvent themselves, the leading left-wing daily concludes.

There is no democratic electoral system which could have helped the opposition parties into power, Gábor Török points out. “Fidesz would have a majority in every possible system other than a fully proportional one,” the centrist analyst remarks. He acknowledges however that the new rules do favour Fidesz, for although the centre-right party lost 600,000 voters and the left-wing opposition gained some 250,000, Fidesz could retain its majority. Electoral engineering through the reform of election laws is not a unique phenomenon, but a common and everyday method used by majorities, Török concludes.

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