For a Fair, Impartial and Proportionate Election System

Declaration of the Hungarian Europe Society with regard to the OSCE Final Report on Parliamentary Elections in Hungary

As it is known, following an invitation from the Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) sent a Limited Election Observation Mission to oversee the parliamentary elections held on 6th April 2014. The OSCE/ODIHR Final Report was adopted and published on 11th July 2014.

In its Executive Summary the Report states that the elections were efficiently organised and the candidate registration process was inclusive. On the other hand, the Report confirms that several factors gave an undue advantage to the ruling Fidesz party. Among these factors the Report mentions restrictive campaign regulations, biased coverage by a large part of the media and a lacking separation of party and State during the election campaign. The document sheds light on controversial issues of newly adopted legislation, including recent amendments to the new Fundamental Law, and on some controversial aspects of newly adopted acts, such as the counting method and transfer of surplus votes, the creation of new constituency boundaries, the discrimination between certain groups of voters living abroad, the separate voting system for registered minority voters and the unlevel playing field between political parties in the media. The Report maintains that the current rules violate international norms and it puts forward as many as 36 recommendations for the purpose of improving the current Hungarian election system.

The non-governmental organisations and media close to the government surround the critical remarks of the OSCE Report with silence, play these down and focus exclusively on the positive aspects of the Report about the efficiency of the administration of the elections. Although election observers acknowledged that the administrative apparatus did, indeed, do an efficient job and followed election rules adequately – which is a piece of well-deserved praise to all civil servants and administrative personnel who participated in the organisation – the OSCE Report also points out that it is questionable whether the people serving on election bodies were selected impartially. Election rules were changed a number of times during the process and in the last minute, which made the work of administrators especially difficult.
The Hungarian Europe Society is of the view that the positive aspects of the Report should not make anyone forget that OSCE observers found many aspects of the Hungarian election system incompatible with international norms. It adds to the gravity of the situation that a recent ruling of the Hungarian Constitutional Court on municipal elections is running against some basic and widely-accepted democratic norms. As Hungary is a member of the community of democratic states and does not wish to leave this community, as we hope, its government is supposed to observe the norms and regulations the country freely accepted when it joined this community. Therefore, we call upon the ruling party coalition and the Minister for Justice, Mr László Trócsányi to make sure that the recommendations put forward by OSCE are acted upon and that the unveiled deficiencies of the current system are dealt with urgently. As a guardian of democratic values, our Society urges Hungarian law-makers to guarantee that Hungarian laws – including the Fundamental Law – are in line with the internationally acknowledged democratic norms of fairness, impartiality and proportionality at all levels of the Hungarian electoral system.
Budapest, July 2014