It will now be possible in Hungary to hold a referendum on the day of the general, municipal, or EP elections, but parliament also adopted several detailed rules on Tuesday that make it more difficult to seek legal actions.
Parliament unanimously adopted an amendment submitted earlier by opposition Párbeszéd MP Tímea Szabó, which allows referendums to be held on the day of parliamentary elections.
The opposition MP’s amendment essentially proposed that the government should remove from the law on referendum procedure those parts that prohibit the holding of a national referendum on the day of, or within 41 days before or after the election of MPs, MEPs, local government representatives, and mayors.
The change will allow referendums to be held even as early as the day of the upcoming 2022 general elections.
Parliament also adopted the related proposals of former Jobbik, then Mi Hazánk, now independent MP János Volner. These basically also provide for the possibility of holding a referendum on the day of the parliamentary elections, but they contain several specific technical changes that make it more difficult to seek legal action or collect signatures. Since his departure from the extra-parliamentary far-right Mi Hazánk, critics say the independent MP often submits bills that clearly serve the government’s interests.
Among others, the opposition politician proposed the following:
The time limit for lodging and deciding on appeals in the case of simultaneous ballots in the national referendum procedure to be shortened from five to three days.
The deadline for filing a constitutional complaint reduced to three days.
Another practical change in the referendum process, for example, is while previously only one question could be found on the ballot paper, now all of them can be on one paper if the initiator is the same. The vote will only be invalid if there are no valid votes on the ballot paper or if the voter has cast their vote for both answers.
The changes allow governing Fidesz to combine its parliamentary election campaign with its controversial ’child protection’ referendum previously initiated by Viktor Orbán’s administration.
Featured photo illustration by Lajos Soós/MTI