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Jobbik MP suggests suffrage based on educational achievement

August 7th, 2017

After a prominent Jobbik MP suggested that people who have not completed eight years of basic schooling should not be allowed to vote, commentators agree that the proposal is out of touch with modern times, but might be revealing about just how far Jobbik’s move to the centre has gone.

Népszava’s Róbert Friss is not sure whether the initiative is a personal one by Ms Dóra Dúró, chair of the Cultural Committee of Parliament, or actually Jobbik policy. (Ms Dúró is married to Előd Novák, who was ousted from his post as Jobbik Vice President last year and was forced to resign from Parliament as he opposed the party’s policy shift towards the centre. She argued that the idea of an educational electoral census was already included in Jobbik’s electoral programme.) At any rate, the left-wing columnist warns, Jobbik’s claim to respectability must be taken with a pinch of salt. He acknowledges that the educational gap between the ‘elite’ and ‘the people’ is a huge problem in modern democracies, but it should be tackled by increasing the general educational level of the population. Friss accuses the governing party of neglecting the education of the poorest in Hungary, with particular emphasis on those of Roma ethnic background.

In Magyar Hírlap, Dánial Kacsoh warns that if Ms Dúró’s proposal were to be enacted by Parliament, this would trigger a process leading to Hungary’s expulsion from the European Union. But of course that will not happen, as none of the other political parties would vote for such an option. What Kacsoh finds strange is the appearance of such a radical right-wing proposal at a time when Jobbik is allying itself with left-liberals in opposing the government’s plans to create a special court structure to handle complaints against decisions taken by the public administration. In unison, they criticise the idea that applications by public servants would get higher points than those by court secretaries and thus government employees would find it easier to become judges on the administrative courts. Ms Dúró’s proposal reminds one of the time when Jobbik inaugurated a bust of interwar Regent Miklós Horthy and led paramilitary units on marches through embattled rural neighbourhoods, Kacsóh remarks. Strangely enough, he adds, liberal human rights watchdogs who never miss an opportunity to criticise the government have not raised their voices. The only ones to protest have been the governing parties.

In Figyelő, Tamás Pindroch makes it clear that Ms Dúró’s suggestion was aimed against the Roma, among whom the ratio of school dropouts is significantly higher than the average. Nevertheless, it would also deprive many non-Gypsy Hungarians of their voting rights, which according to Pindroch contradicts Jobbik’s claim to be a party centred around nationhood. He asks well-known human rights advocates and former liberal party luminaries who argue for an electoral alliance between the Left and Jobbik, why they keep silent about a proposal ‘which reveals what is hidden behind the smiling mask’ Jobbik wears nowadays. Do you still find Jobbik cute? He asks them.

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