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Gyurcsány against transborder Hungarians’ voting rights

November 13th, 2017

Two conservative editors devote their regular weekly editorials to DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány’s initiative to collect signatures to support his idea to scrap the law allowing ethnic Hungarians living in other countries who acquired Hungarian citizenship to take part in elections in Hungary.

In Heti Válasz, Gábor Borókai dissects Mr Gyurcsány’s argument according to which people who don’t live in Hungary and don’t pay taxes here should not have a voice in electing Hungary’s politicians. With the same logic one could claim that family members who have no revenue should not be heard when decisions about the family’s affairs are taken, Borókai wrintes. He finds the idea all the more repulsive, since the voting rights of transborder Hungarians symbolise what they have in common with those living within Hungary’s borders; a right he holds as incomparably more important than their weight in deciding who will be entitled to form a government in Hungary. Hungarian citizens living in neighbouring countries don’t vote for candidates in the individual constituencies, their voting rights are limited to party lists which produce less than half of all parliamentary mandates. Thus, a maximum one or two seats may depend on how they vote, which in Borókai’s opinion is consistent with the impact of parliamentary decisions on the lives of transborder Hungarians. But Borókai’s main objection is that Mr Gyurcsány seems to subordinate the overall national interest to petty political calculations. In 2004, as Prime Minister, he campaigned against the idea of ‘dual citizenship’, i.e. against the almost automatic granting of Hungarian citizenship to those transborder Hungarians who request it. At the time, he engaged in scaremongering, telling voters that such people would quickly drain the coffers of the National Health Service. Now he accepts dual citizenship, but wants to deprive transborder citizens of their voting rights, without acknowledging that he was wrong 13 years ago. Borókai takes that as proof that Mr Gyurcsány only has a vision about how to become the number-one leader on the left, which is far from being sufficient to make him a possible Prime Minister anytime soon.

Writing in Demokrata on the same subject, Péter Farkas Zárug believes that Mr Gyurcsány is following cool-headed calculations with his initiative. He realises that by now, as shown by a recent Publicus survey (See BudaPost, November 11), only a minority of Hungarians would deny citizenship to transborder Hungarians. The same research proves however that an absolute majority of respondents disagree with their right to vote here. And when they were explicitly asked whether they supported the voting rights of transborder Hungarians who pay no taxes in Hungary, only 18% answered ‘yes’. Zárug believes that Mr Gyurcsány could increase his voting base by 2 to 3 percentage points as a result of his current campaign.

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