Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Weeklies on electoral tinkering and the opposition

December 11th, 2023

Critics of the government accuse it of unscrupulously manipulating electoral rules, while pro-government columnists dismiss such arguments as unsubstantiated and pitiful.

In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető condemns the new electoral rules for the city of Budapest, which will shortly be passed by Parliament. The move, he asserts, is dictated by the desire to weaken the position of the mayor who is an opponent of the government. (For the planned amendment see BudaPost, December 2.) He writes that the ‘original sin’ was committed by the left-liberal coalition in 1994 who changed the Budapest electoral system just a few weeks before the local elections. Nevertheless, instead of leaving the original sin behind, the Hungarian political elite is resolved to commit it again and again, he concludes.

In its first page editorial, Magyar Narancs suggests that Hungary hasn’t been a democracy for at least the past 12 years as the government side never ceases to tinker with electoral rules whenever this suits its momentary interests. The liberal weekly compares the ‘silly people’ who still believe in democracy in Hungary to flat-Earth believers. The editors go so far as to suggest that ‘we are now only an arm’s-length away’ from returning to the conditions which existed before the regime change.

Another liberal weekly, Heti Világazdaság carries a cover story alleging that the incumbent government wants to eternalise its rule by changing electoral procedures. The two authors, Zoltán Farkas and Márton Gergely also complain that relentless campaigns against the opposition are being conducted by the Prime Minister’s office and by what they call pseudo-NGOs from public money, rather than by Fidesz itself. Meanwhile, the resources allotted to political parties have been slashed and when they try to circumvent the rules, they are immediately heavily fined, they write.

On the pro-government side, Demokrata’s Dániel Kovács suggests that the opposition should only be too happy if the Budapest Council were to be elected through proportional voting rather than composed of district mayors and candidates selected from the pool of losing district ballots. In fact, he argues, that was the system before 2014, and when the government changed it, left-wing parties accused it of antidemocratic tendencies. He finds it absurd of the opposition to level the same accusation at the government when it wants to return to the old system.

In Mandiner, Tamás Pindroch believes that opposition voters must be at a loss to see their parties overwhelmed by their own internal and interparty conflicts as well as debates on the electoral system which is of no interest to most voters. He suspects that voters might increasingly have the feeling that such people are not fit to govern Hungarian cities because they do more harm than good.



Tags: , ,