The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is recommending a full-scale election observation mission for Hungary’s parliamentary elections on April 3, comprised of a total of 218 election observers, writes EUrologus. According to the article, Bulgaria is the only other EU member to have undergone this until now.
According to the OSCE proposal, 18 long-term observers will first arrive in Hungary ahead of a further 200 observers, who will arrive shortly before April 3 and leave a few days after the elections.
At the invitation of the Hungarian government, last month OSCE representatives studied the legislation and institutional structures around the Hungarian elections. While in the country, they met with representatives of state agencies, opposition and pro-government politicians, journalists, and NGO representatives. Based on this research, it was determined that it would not be enough to focus their observation mission only around the elections, but that representatives of the organization also arrive a month ahead of time.
Among concerns mentioned in the report were the possibility of transporting voters not living in Hungary and vote buying, especially among vulnerable groups such as the Roma and in rural communities.
It was also mentioned that, despite previous changes recommended by OSCE, campaign finance legislation had remained virtually unchanged since the last election. Other issues of concern noted by the organization were the process of reviewing election complaints and the lack of public hearings in this regard.
The OSCE took part in Hungary’s 2018 parliamentary elections with a “limited mission” of observers, although domestic NGOs had already launched a full-scale observation mission of their own.
This January, 20 Hungarian NGOs called on the OSCE to conduct a full-scale observation mission for the April elections. These civil organizations claim that the fairness of the elections is being threatened by changes in election rules and in the composition of electoral districts, the use of public money for pro-government campaign purposes, intensifying rhetoric around anti-foreigner and LGBTQ sentiment, the government’s subjugation of the media market, and the takeover of election agencies, among other things.
In addition, 62 Members of the European Parliament also wrote a letter to the OSCE in January calling for a full-scale election observation mission to Hungary.
Hungary’s parliamentary election will be held on April 3, together with a national referendum on what the government calls “child protection” issues. [Telex]