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EXCLUSIVE: My Experience as an Opposition Vote Counter in a 300-Person Village

picture of ballot box and man

Friend of the site Tamás shared with us his experience working as a vote counter for the united opposition last weekend in a very small town in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, in the northeastern part of the country, close to the Ukrainian border. Following are Tamás’ words:

I had no illusions that we could win an election in a 300-person dead-end village in Szabolcs County on an anti-corruption and pro-Europe platform. I sat together with the “aunties,” delegated by the municipality, who were all extremely kind and pleased that young people had finally come there to count votes. They gave us breakfast and lunch, and continually asked us if we wanted anything else. The local notary was a young lady around our age. She was also happy that we were there, as all of her friends had left for Budapest or gone abroad long ago. She even jokingly tried to convince us to move there.

It was terrible to look around the dying village and see that people either exclusively lived off of the local public works program or were retired. And the unfortunate people who were roused out of gypsy row to go vote, and to see that they were visibly afraid of the “aunties” sitting next to me who direct the public works program. And the racism exhibited by the chairperson, who made a face in disgust at every gypsy who came in, offering me hand sanitizer and asking, “You don’t have any of these where you are, right?” And the old people don’t visit the doctor, because what for, and anyway they’re far from here.

Our accommodation was on the outskirts of Vásárosnamény, in a guest house renovated with EU funds. Around us were crumbling “Kádár cube”-type buildings one after another, but between them jutted out a few newly-built solar-powered family homes with new cars.

People everywhere were incredibly kind, and much friendlier than what I am used to in the capital. The other vote counting “aunties” packed up the leftovers from lunch for us and tried to get us to stay there for a few more days, saying they would provide accommodation for us in the village. That evening, after we got a flat tire while driving home, they helped us find a mechanic and took us back to our accommodation by car.

I don’t regret the experience. The only sad thing about it was that everyone gave up on these people a long time ago, and they can feel it. They turn on state-run M1 television in the evening and are thankful that at least their grandchildren are not being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Thanks to Tamás for sharing his experience with us!

[Picture: Számoljuk Együtt Mozgalom]

Posted in 2022 Elections