news letter

Weekly newsletter

Hungarian Expats Denied Right To Vote Via Mail As Governing Parties Boycott Parliamentary Debate

By Ferenc Sullivan // 2016.08.22.

An out-of-schedule parliamentary sitting on allowing Hungarian expats to vote via mail, initated by the opposition radical nationalist Jobbik party with support from the Socialists and the green LMP, has come to an end after MPs representing the governing centre-right Fidesz-KDNP alliance failed to turn up at the meeting.

Due to the lack of a quorum, the Monday meeting was adjourned after pre-agenda speeches and the proposed amendment of the law on the electoral procedure to afford expats the possibility of voting via mail was not included on the parliamentary voting agenda.

Governing parties had signalled in advance that they disagree with broadening the right to vote via mail and will stay away from the meeting and said that the opposition’s attempt to change the rules of a referendum that has already been called is “politically solicitous”. Lajos Kósa, the leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary group, had previously indicated that the law on the electoral procedure had been approved by both the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the Strasbourg-based European Court of Justice, and also includes recommendations put forward by the Venice Commission.

Previously, opposition groups – especially left-wing parties – had criticised the law on the electoral procedure for what they claimed was a “deliberate” attempt to disencourage Hungarian expats living in the West, many of whom have left the country to work or study abroad, from voting, while favouring ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. Under the law, Hungarian citizens without a residential address in Hungary are able to vote via mail after registering, while those registered as residents of Hungary are not.

Speaking in early July, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said that by the end of the current cycle, there will be one million new Hungarian citizens as a result of the government’s dual citizenship programme.