The European Court of Human Rights said in a Tuesday ruling that Hungary’s authorities had acted unlawfully by fining the satirical Two-Tailed Dog party (MKKP) for encouraging people to sabotage a government-initiated referendum on European migrant quotas.
MKKP had suggested before the Orbán government’s controversial referendum, which attacked the EU migrant quota system, that voters should invalidate their ballot paper and share a photo of the spoiled sheet via its mobile application. The National Election Committee fined the party 800,000 forints (2,580 euros) for “violating the secrecy of the vote”. The fine was later reduced to 100,000 forints by Hungary’s Kúria, the supreme court. And now, with its ruling, Strasbourg-based Court of Human Rights said Hungary’s authorities had violated passages of the European Charter of Human Rights on the freedom of expression, and ordered the Hungarian state to pay the party 3,330 euros plus legal fees in compensation.
“Over one million people want to go to Europe from Hungary alone”
In 2016, the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition launched a lengthy billboard campaign in 2016 that culminated in a referendum on the EU’s refugee-resettlement quota plan, a vote whose turnout was too low to be deemed legally valid. Most opposition parties called for a boycott of the vote, while the Two-Tailed Dog party elected to mock the government’s billboard campaign, which many international and domestic observers decried as an example of fear-mongering and xenophobia, with one of its own.
The Strasbourg court’s decision comes on the heels of recent revelations that the Orbán government had quietly granted asylum to about 1,300 refugees last year, which has caused a huge stir in Hungarian domestic politics due to the fact that this seemingly undercuts the Orbán government’s longstanding rhetoric regarding the “dangers” of migrants.
At the beginning, Two-Tailed Dog Party’s goal was just to mock all sides in Hungarian politics. After the invalid quota referendum, they decided to go “serious” and compete in the upcoming elections in April 2018. Ever since they have been strong critics of the Orbán government, while continuing to mock the state of Hungarian politics as a whole. A brief example of their style of humor can be seen in some of their candidates in the upcoming elections, which include, among others,”Claire the acid-spitting weasel” whose campaign poster you can see below:
image via MKKP