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Only a Fraction of Hungarians Living Abroad Would Vote on April 3

Hungary Today 2022.04.02.

Only 65,716 Hungarians living outside of Hungary but with a Hungarian residency registered to cast their ballots at embassies for the upcoming elections, while their total number may be as high as around 4-500,000. Due to unsettled voting difficulties, they often have to travel and wait long hours in order to vote, which, as a recent poll confirmed, has a very negative impact on their enthusiasm.

Numbers of those who wish to cast their ballots abroad:

  • London: 8,100
  • Munich: 4,600
  • Stuttgart: 3,700
  • The Hague: 3,400
  • Bern: 3,000
  • Berlin: 2,700
  • Brussels: 2,000

However, the combined number of Hungarian residents living abroad who want to take part in the election is a little higher than four years ago, when 58,356 of emigrants registered to vote (and the number of those who actually turned up was even smaller).

In contrast to those living in the Carpathian Basin without an address within the borders (who can only vote for the national list), these Hungarians may cast two votes (the same for those within Hungary): one for the candidates in their constituency and one for the parties’ national list.

In contrast to Carpathian Basin Hungarians, these emigrants tend to be more critical with the ruling forces, a tendency which has been confirmed by several recent surveys. This has led many critics to think that this was one of the reasons why the Fidesz-led government appeared reluctant to address their voting difficulties (either opening more consulates or allowing mail-in votes).

As of now, however, voting often means long travel and wait times.

In the UK, for example, there are only three consulates (London, Manchester, and Edinburgh) available for the more than 155,000 Hungarians living there.

A recent survey confirmed that better possibilities would matter big time. Momentum-linked 21 Research Center’s poll recently found that if they all had to travel less than one hour to the polling stations, some 184,000 people eventually would vote. And this would increase to even higher levels, to around 234,000, if people could vote by mail, similar to ethnic Hungarians. Needless to say, this could already play a crucial role in terms of the final outcome.

OSCE: Unequal Election Opportunities in Hungary
OSCE: Unequal Election Opportunities in Hungary

The report notes that the relevant law on campaign finances does not regulate spending by third parties who play an active role in the campaign.Continue reading

The opposition went so far as to announce a charter flight for those wishing to come home for the elections, and that they would help with car-sharing too. Other NGOs, many of them linked to the opposition one way or another, are organizing events for the day of the elections featuring famed Hungarian bands and comedians. Another organization, Diaspora Aid, took on to collect donations, independently from party preferences, for those in the UK who can’t afford to travel to the polling stations.

featured image: queuing voters in London at the elections in 2014; via Péter Kollányi/MTI

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