- 5 Apr 2022 6:57 AM
- Hungary Matters
Candidates were largely able to campaign freely but the tone of the campaign was negative, OSCE election and referendum monitor Kari Henriksen told a press conference assessing the ballot. She said a lack of transparency and oversight over campaign finance favoured the ruling alliance.
The absence of debates between the main contestants limited the ability of voters to make an informed decision, Henriksen said.
She said the OSCE had also observed that women had been underrepresented among the candidates and in the campaign overall. In order for voters to be able to make an informed choice it is crucial that candidates get equal access to the media, she said.
Henriksen added, however, that the observation mission’s findings were mainly positive and that it had witnessed few violations of the rules.
Mark Pritchard, head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s delegation, said the election had been organised successfully but showed many shortcomings, with numerous prior recommendations made by the organisation yet to be addressed. He encouraged the incoming government to be more ambitious when it came to improving election laws.
Jillian Stark, head of the election observation mission deployed by OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said the election had been overshadowed by a blurring of the line between the ruling parties and the state.
She said the observers had heard a variety of opinions, adding that they had come to Hungary to observe the election, not to interfere with it.
Stark said the legal framework for holding a referendum on the same day as the election was “inadequate for a democratic process”, adding that voters had not received balanced information about the ballot.
The high turnout, however, demonstrates the commitment of Hungarian voters, she said. Stark also said it was “shocking” how polarised people’s views were on the Russia-Ukraine war.