Hungarian Opinion: Electoral Tinkering & the Opposition

  • 18 Dec 2023 10:25 AM
  • BudaPost
Hungarian Opinion: Electoral Tinkering & the Opposition
Critics of the government accuse it of unscrupulously manipulating electoral rules, while pro-government columnists dismiss such arguments as unsubstantiated and pitiful.

In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető condemns the new electoral rules for the city of Budapest, which will shortly be passed by Parliament. The move, he asserts, is dictated by the desire to weaken the position of the mayor who is an opponent of the government. 

 He writes that the ‘original sin’ was committed by the left-liberal coalition in 1994 who changed the Budapest electoral system just a few weeks before the local elections. Nevertheless, instead of leaving the original sin behind, the Hungarian political elite is resolved to commit it again and again, he concludes.

In its first page editorial, Magyar Narancs suggests that Hungary hasn’t been a democracy for at least the past 12 years as the government side never ceases to tinker with electoral rules whenever this suits its momentary interests. The liberal weekly compares the ‘silly people’ who still believe in democracy in Hungary to flat-Earth believers. The editors go so far as to suggest that ‘we are now only an arm’s-length away’ from returning to the conditions which existed before the regime change.

Another liberal weekly, Heti Világazdaság carries a cover story alleging that the incumbent government wants to eternalise its rule by changing electoral procedures. The two authors, Zoltán Farkas and Márton Gergely also complain that relentless campaigns against the opposition are being conducted by the Prime Minister’s office and by what they call pseudo-NGOs from public money, rather than by Fidesz itself. Meanwhile, the resources allotted to political parties have been slashed and when they try to circumvent the rules, they are immediately heavily fined, they write.

On the pro-government side, Demokrata’s Dániel Kovács suggests that the opposition should only be too happy if the Budapest Council were to be elected through proportional voting rather than composed of district mayors and candidates selected from the pool of losing district ballots. In fact, he argues, that was the system before 2014, and when the government changed it, left-wing parties accused it of antidemocratic tendencies. He finds it absurd of the opposition to level the same accusation at the government when it wants to return to the old system.

In Mandiner, Tamás Pindroch believes that opposition voters must be at a loss to see their parties overwhelmed by their own internal and interparty conflicts as well as debates on the electoral system which is of no interest to most voters. He suspects that voters might increasingly have the feeling that such people are not fit to govern Hungarian cities because they do more harm than good.

Ukraine changes controversial minority law

A pro-government commentator welcomes the amendment as a first step towards normalizing the status of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine.

On Mandiner, Mátyás Kohán writes that ‘on paper’, Ukraine has done all Hungary asked for – short of an end to the harassment of ethnic Hungarians. The law passed last week allows teaching in the languages of European Union member countries and also lifts the ban on using those languages in public. ‘Better late than never’, Kohán remarks.

He ascribes these positive changes to Hungary’s relentless opposition to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration until the rights of ethnic Hungarians are restored. He also mentions that the old restrictions remain in place for Russians, and thus, ‘Russia’s and Hungary’s interests do not coincide anymore’.

He adds however that Hungary must remain vigilant and see whether the regular mistreatment of ethnic Hungarians (like removing old Hungarian symbols, appointing a non-Hungarian-speaking headmaster in the only Hungarian school of Mukachevo, and the harassment of Hungarian minority leaders by secret services) will cease.

This opinion does not necessarily represent the views of or the publisher.

Your opinions are welcome too - for editorial review before possible publication online. 

Click here to Share Your Story

  • How does this content make you feel?

XpatLoop Media Partner


Launched in May 2011 to provide a balanced picture of matters covered in Hungary’s national press. Their aim is to make it easier for English-speakers to understand where this country is now and where it’s heading according to the full spectrum of media opinions.

Explore More Reports