Hungarian Opinion: Parliament to Change the Budapest Electoral System

  • 5 Dec 2023 5:16 AM
  • BudaPost
Hungarian Opinion: Parliament to Change the Budapest Electoral System
Opposition-leaning commentators accuse Fidesz of using far-right Mi Hazánk to change the electoral rules in Budapest in order to make it more difficult for the liberal Mayor to run the capital.

In an extraordinary session of Parliament, pro-government MPs allowed Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) to table a bill envisaging a proportional system to elect the Budapest Council. Mi Hazánk insisted that the bill should be discussed along with a draft resolution on a more proportional system of parliamentary elections as well.

In Népszava, political analyst Róbert László is convinced that Fidesz MPs will support the idea of  proportional mandate distribution in Budapest, but not in the case of parliamentary elections. At present, the Budapest Council consists of the 23 district mayors and 9 further members chosen on the basis of the lost votes in the district mayoral elections.

As not even one district mayor belongs to Fidesz, that gives the mayor of Budapest a solid majority, he explains, and that is why, he believes, Fidesz allowed the bill to be tabled just six months before the local elections. For the same reason, he predicts, Fidesz MPs will vote down the resolution on a proportional distribution of mandates in parliamentary elections, as that would strip the governing party of its two-thirds majority, he predicts.

On Telex, Balázs Cseke quotes an analysis by the Political Capital thinktank suggesting that Fidesz has given up hope of voting Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony out of office but is trying to make his life as hard as they can. The proportional system, the liberal analysts explain, will allow Mi Hazánk and the Twin-tailed Dog protest party to make it into the Budapest Council, thus depriving the Mayor of his comfortable majority there. Meanwhile, it will increase the number of Fidesz members in the Council.

Cseke also remarks that the draft resolution on replacing the majoritarian parliamentary electoral system with a more proportional one is just a declaration of principle rather than a bill – and as such, would have no immediate consequences even if it were adopted.

Weeklies on the right to die

Commentators on both Left and Right support the struggle a terminally ill patient is waging in the European Court of Human Rights for the right to die in dignity.

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights heard the case of lawyer Dániel Karsai,  who suffers from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that has already severely impaired his muscles and speech. He sued the Hungarian state because it refuses to authorise euthanasia for terminally ill patients at a stage where they must face hopeless suffering,

In Jelen, Henriett Biczó reports that Dr Karsai has been joined in his court case by two more ALS patients who told her that they are not just fighting for their own right to die in dignity but for all those who face or will face similar conditions in the future. In fact, she remarks, even if the court rules in their favour, which cannot be expected sooner than the end of January 2024, it may be too late for them by the time Parliament actually passes legislation authorising euthanasia.

They may well die before such a complicated matter can be settled by legislators. Dr Karsai himself told the reporter that he and the other two ALS patients suing the Hungarian state fear they will eventually be the martyrs of the fight for the right to die in dignity, rather than its beneficiaries.

In Magyar Hang, András Lányi laments that if the three ALS patients win their case in court, the government will find itself opposed to yet another all-European institution so that the whole controversy will appear in the context of the so-called ‘sovereignty struggle’ waged by the government against ‘the European elites’.

He fears therefore that no decent dialogue will be possible on this thorny issue. He also believes the government may find itself in conflict with most of the citizenry, as polls have shown that the majority of Hungarians agree with the idea of a ‘good death’. He also believes that precise legislation could exclude the possibility of a new euthanasia law being abused for the purpose of suicide.

In a Demokrata editorial exceptionally critical of the government’s stance, András Bencsik fully understands Dr Karsai’s claim, arguing that the terminal stage of ALS is incredibly humiliating for the patient. He concedes that the issue is extremely difficult and compares it to the moral dilemma raised by the problem of abortion.

Although morally speaking, he explains, it would be inadmissible to authorise abortion, governments nevertheless recoil from banning it because they don’t want to clash with a majority opinion among voters. Poland’s example, where the Conservative government was voted out of office earlier this autumn, he writes, shows that by banning abortion, governments may run into fierce opposition.

Therefore, most governments try to find a compromise halfway between a ban and the freedom of abortion. But since they are able to do so in that case, he asks, why can’t they find a compromise for those who are already condemned to death by the ALS disease? Do they stand no chance simply because there are relatively few such patients, and they cannot decide the outcome of an election, unlike those who support abortion?  He concludes by defining that refusal a ‘hypocritical, two-faced attitude’.

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MTI Photo: Tibor Illyés

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