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Category: Elections

Posts about Hungarian elections

Momentum Charges Fidesz With Fraud as It Appeals Election Results

Momentum is charging Fidesz with electoral fraud following a special election held in the Buda Castle district at the beginning of September. The by-election for the District I municipal government was won by the Fidesz candidate, Csilla Fazekas, by a mere 60 votes against the opposition candidate, Momentum’s Borbála Korsós.

The opposition party is claiming that since the beginning of August, numerous suspicious people had established residence in the district at 16 Ostrom Street. It later was revealed that many people associated with Fidesz youth group Fidelitas had registered at that address, included the Fidelitas vice president.

The local election office then released a statement in which it stated that “the number of voters did indeed show an exceptionally high increase at the address indicated in the objection. However, the LEC [Local Election Commission] does not have the right or competence to investigate, as official authorities, the legality of address declarations.”

On Facebook, Momentum President Ferenc Gelencsér wrote on Monday:

It is unrealistic to think that 10 people can just establish residency in the same apartment, and 13 people in the same apartment building, within a matter of days. This is particularly unrealistic because the property at 16 Ostrom Street is primarily a medical center and not a residential building. We will not let Fidesz get away with its fraud, and will appeal the LEC’s decision to the Metropolitan Election Commission!”

[444]

Dialogue Charges State News Agency With Intentionally Not Reporting Opposition Electoral Victory

Although Párbeszéd (Dialogue) politician Zsolt Balajti won an election to the municipal council in the town of Isaszeg on Sunday, state news agency MTI did not report on the victory. The opposition party does not believe it was an accidental oversight by MTI.

Knowing the mechanisms of how the Orbán regime operates and the well-documented investigative articles about the news agency’s decision-making processes, Dialogue presumes that MTI deliberately did not publish the result on instructions from above. This procedure seriously violates the officially-declared principle of informing on a balanced, democratic basis. Dialogue calls on the decision-makers to comply with their basic obligations that derive from public service and the freedom of the press.

-the green party wrote on Facebook.

The special election was necessitated when one of Isaszeg’s municipal representatives, DK’s Balázs Barkóczi, became a Member of Parliament this past spring.

In 2019, Barkóczi won by only 9 votes in this district, while the Fidesz candidate won the district in this year’s parliamentary elections. But on Sunday, Dialogue’s Balajti, supported by fellow opposition parties Momentum, MSZP, LMP, and DK, decisively defeated Fidesz candidate Tiborné Prosits in a 150-119 victory.

Apart from Balajti and Prosits, a candidate from the Hungarian Workers’ Party also ran in the election and received a single vote.

In March, investigative outlet Direkt36 revealed, based on leaked internal communication, how the Hungarian government regularly interferes in MTI’s day-to-day operation, and how it distorts the news in line with its own political interests. [Magyar Narancs]

European and Municipal Elections to Be Held on Same Day in 2024

With 140 votes for and 36 votes against, the two-thirds majority of the ruling Fidesz party passed the eleventh amendment to the Fundamental Law on Tuesday in Parliament, so it will now be possible to hold elections for the European Parliament and municipal elections at the same time, starting in 2024.

While European and local government elections will likely be held simultaneously in May 2024, according to the new law, municipal officials elected in May will only be able to take office in the fall.

The amendment to the Fundamental Law also includes a change renaming Hungarian counties (megye) as “castle counties” (vármegye). Another law also passed on Tuesday will rename government commissioners as “chief lords” (főispán). [HVG]

Special Election Results Unlikely Predictor of Future Elections

Municipal by-elections were held in five county seats, nine other towns, and four Budapest districts on Sunday, with 16 declared Fidesz candidates winning 12 of their races.

Mayor Gergely Karácsony described the results as disappointing, saying that voters had “sent a message” to Hungary’s opposition parties with their votes.

However, with a remarkably low turnout of around 20% in these elections, political analysts warn against reading too much into what the results might portend for future elections.

“No far-reaching conclusions for national politics can be drawn from these results,” said Gergely Rajnai of the Center for Fair Political Analysis. Turnout is generally lower in the special elections, he said, but even more so when they are held in the summer.

Rajnai also noted that cash-strapped political parties are less able to run campaigns now, since they only receive campaign funding for parliamentary elections. As a result, many people are typically not even aware of such special elections unless they are approached by a party activist.

I would caution against drawing any long-term conclusions. These were by-elections with a particularly low turnout.

-said Andrea Virág of the Republikon Institute.

Virág cited the summer season and the less important stakes of these elections as reasons for the weak turnout, but also pointed out that politicians and voters may have become weary of campaigning. Prior to parliamentary elections in April, Hungary’s political parties had campaigned continuously since last August, she said. [Szabad Európa]

Karácsony: Voters Sent a Message with Special Elections Results

László Vasvári won a seat in the Újpest Municipality by-elections on Sunday as the joint candidate for MSZP, Dialogue, LMP, Momentum, Jobbik, and DK, the parties that also ran joint candidates in April’s parliamentary elections. Vasvári’s 47.7% of the vote beat the pro-government candidate, Fruzsina Drabant, who only managed to get 40.7%.

However, Vasvári was the lone opposition winner in the capital on Sunday, as pro-government candidates won in two other Budapest races where special municipal elections were also held. The Fidesz-KDNP nominee won elections for local governments seats in Józsefváros and in the neighboring Erzsébetváros, both replacing DK members in their respective districts.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony admitted his disappointment with the result on social media:

Can’t deny it, it was a disappointing result.

The Mayor argued that the opposition’s current attitude of “if we can’t defeat Fidesz, we’ll defeat each other” isn’t leading anywhere.

He also wrote that “voters have sent a message: wake up!” [HVG]

Fidesz Mayor Re-Elected to Post Despite Conviction on Corruption Charges

Despite having been convicted of corruption charges and subsequently resigning, Margit Tát (Fidesz-KDNP) was re-elected as mayor of Méhkerék, Békés County, in a special election held on Sunday. A majority of ethnic Romanians live in the town of some 2,000 inhabitants.

Clerk Ágnes Major told MTI that a total of 1,190 votes were cast in the mayoral election, a turnout of 67.44%. Margit Tát received 805 votes, more than double the amount of her closest competitor, Samuel Gherman, who got 349 votes. A third candidate, Daniel Gherasim, received 20 votes.

Both Gherman and Gherasim ran as independent candidates. 16 votes were counted as invalid.

The special election was necessitated by Margit Tát herself, who resigned at the end of February after she received a suspended prison sentence by a court in Gyula on February 9 for the crime of defrauding the budget and for the continued misuse of a forged private document. Tát had led the settlement since 2010.

A total of eight defendants in the case defrauded the budget by more than 30 million Ft. (US $78,800) between September 2013 and October 2015, the court found in its final ruling.

Tát was able to run again as a candidate because, based on legal interpretations and resolutions adopted by the Ministry of the Interior, she remains under probation for her suspended jail time, and because the special election created a new office in which her conviction doesn’t disqualify her candidacy. [HVG]

No Candidate From United Opposition on Ballot for Eger Special Election

The Northern Hungarian town of Eger will be holding a special election for a new municipal representative on June 26, but the ballot won’t have a candidate from Hungary’s united opposition on it.

At the moment, voters will be able to select from candidates representing Fidesz and Our Homeland, plus at least two non-party-affiliated candidates. Two other independent candidates may also make the ballot by the deadline, and Egri Ügyek claims that the Solution Movement is also looking to field a candidate.

Ádám Vermes was sponsored by united opposition coalition partners DK and Jobbik, but Vermes announced in a Facebook post on Saturday that he was withdrawing his candidacy.

The reason for this is because the conditions for running a successful campaign are not currently in place.

-Vermes wrote in his post.

“Thus the national trend continues of the opposition, beaten in the April elections, still unable to offer an alternative,” wrote Egri Ügyek. [Azonnali]

Márki-Zay on Direkt36 Report: “I’m Glad I Was the Only One Who Made Mistakes”

“I’m glad I was the only one who made mistakes, and everyone else was perfect. At least this is what I learned this from the Direkt36 investigative report,” wrote Péter Márki-Zay on Facebook on Wednesday in response to Direkt36’s detailed investigative article on the failures of the opposition’s election campaign that it published on Tuesday.

The opposition’s nominee for prime minister claimed that while the article gave an accounting of the opposition’s shortcomings, it did not say what they had done well.

He then pointed out in his post what Direkt36 had failed to point out. As he wrote, the opposition did not lose the election and give a two-thirds majority to Fidesz for the first time. However, he pointed out that:

For the first time, we chose 106 nominees in a primary election, held a six-party joint campaign, received 400,000 Ft. in micro-donations in a nearly 3 billion Ft. campaign, had 27,000 vote counters in 11,000 places around the country, bused in 100,000 people for a rally in March, formed a joint opposition list and joint platform, and now have three Roma representatives in Parliament.

The opposition candidate acknowledged that he had said a few things poorly, “just as there were weak posters, communication materials, logistical problems and shortcomings throughout the campaign.”

But he also claimed that:

Whoever thinks these things are responsible for the enormous, 20% loss is lying. And at the same time, they legitimize the Fidesz regime, which claims that democracy still exists here and that it is only because of the opposition’s weakness that we could not prevent a two-thirds victory for the fourth time in a row.

Márki-Zay wrote that the real causes for the defeat were not due to the opposition, but because of the overwhelming superiority “a hundred times over in resource dominance, in Fidesz’s propaganda machinery, in the independent press and institutions that have shrunk over the years, in the feudal dependency system and vulnerability, in databases for the entire population, and in the capacity to mobilize.”

“We were fighting a tank division with a slingshot,” summarized the opposition politician. [HVG]

Márki-Zay Responds to Direkt36 Report, Explains Campaign Failures

Speaking on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd program, Péter Márki-Zay, the political opposition’s joint candidate for prime minister, said that he was shocked by an article published by investigative outlet Direkt36 on Tuesday on the reasons for his election defeat and the collapse of the opposition. He was also shocked and hurt to see how many times the heads of the six-party coaltion made decisions behind his back.

He added that business and lobbying interests had tried to influence the campaign, which he attempted to stop. At the same time, Márki-Zay also took responsibility for his election loss.

Well, I’m sure I made a million mistakes.

-he said, in large part because of his inadequate campaign messaging.

Péter Márki-Zay also mentioned that he felt he was the candidate in the primary election least likely to be lumped in with former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, still loathed by large numbers of voters, which is why he won the primary. This is also why Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony withdrew as a primary candidate, but their calculations didn’t work out in the end.

Fidesz then made a campaign about Gyurcsány […] half a year later they were already lumping me in with Gyurcsány […] I was sad to see that Fidesz’s communication capabilities were not only able to make this possible, but that they could make hundreds of thousands of people in this country believe that we would be taking away their children to die in Ukraine.

-said Péter Márki-Zay at the end of the interview. [Index]

Hungarian Absentee Voter Registered to Vote in January, Only Put on Voter Roll After Election

Although a Hungarian citizen in the Netherlands registered with the National Election Office (NVI) in January to be able to vote by mail in the April election, they only received notification of having been put on the voter roll on May 13, reports 444.hu.

This means that four months were needed for NVI to send the notice, so the person was obviously unable to take part in the April 3 parliamentary elections. The voter did not even receive the necessary ballot package to vote by mail.

When the voter complained about the delay on April 1, they only received a generic response about “delivering ballot packages to registered foreign voters.” [HVG]

Karácsony: Different Nominee Would Not Have Changed Election Result

“I strongly doubt that we would have had a fundamentally different result if anyone else had been the nominee for prime minister,” said Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, one of the candidates running for the position himself on the opposition side, to Inforádió. Karácsony was responding to the question of whether in retrospect it had been a good idea to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Péter Márki-Zay, the eventual nominee.

“I determined that with Péter Márki-Zay as the prime ministerial nominee, the opposition would be better able to project itself as building a future-oriented politics,” the Mayor told Inforádió. [444]

The Myth of Disillusioned Fidesz Voters

“There is a broad consensus among analysts who have evaluated the election results that the group of voters targeted by the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, Péter Márki-Zay, is essentially non-existent,” writes Magyar Hang. “In other words, we cannot talk about disillusioned Fidesz voters, so a campaign based on addressing them was doomed to failure.”

“My guess, which is confirmed by personal experience, is a more nuanced picture. Bourgeois-conservative voters who are explicitly repelled by how Fidesz’s power machinery operates, and by its shift to a radical right-wing position, have largely left the ruling party. But they have been replaced by new voters, mainly from smaller settlements in Hungary.” [Magyar Hang]

Opposition in Sárvár Recruiting Candidates on Facebook for Special Election

The western Hungarian town of Sárvár is holding a municipal by-election on June 26 due to the death of one of its local representatives, but the political opposition has been unable to find any suitable candidates and has taken to recruiting on Facebook, reports HVG.

The “Everyone for Sárvár Movement,” which defines itself as opposed to Fidesz, specifies that it is looking for a candidate “who is not running under the Fidesz banner or one of its allies, and accepts the Sárvár opposition statement.”

Applicants have until April 29 to apply, and a primary will be held in Sárvár’s 5th electoral district between April 30-May 5 if more than one suitable candidate applies. [HVG]

Five Suspects Hauled into Court for Forging Election Endorsements

Five people appeared in court in suspicion of breaking the election law, announced the Prosecutor General’s Office. Three parliamentary candidates were charged with falsifying endorsement signature sheets in Komárom-Esztergom County’s 3rd electoral district. All of the suspects have declared their innocence.

According to the office, two of the aspiring candidates were unable to come up with enough endorsement signatures to get on the ballot, while the third suspect did manage to get on the ballot, managing to get at least 500 valid signatures.

The statement did not reveal which parties the candidates were members of. [HVG]

MPs from Party List Accept Official Credentials

MPs who won seats in Parliament from a party or nationality list in the April 3 election received their credentials on Wednesday from András Téglási, Chair of the National Election Commission. Viktor Orbán, who headed the joint Fidesz-KDNP party list, was the first to receive his official papers.

The parliamentary election was finalized last Saturday, with the Fidesz-KDNP coalition winning 48 seats from their joint party list, the six-party (Democratic Coalition, Jobbik, LMP, Momentum, MSZP, and Dialogue) opposition coalition winning 38 party list seats, and Our Homeland winning 6 seats from their party list. Hungary’s German nationality also won a single seat in Parliament. [HVG]

Gattyán’s Party Has to Repay 108 Million Ft. in Election Funding

Political parties have until May 1 to repay unused public funds they received for the election, as well as any funds due back to the state for poor showings on their party list or for their individual candidates, writes HVG.

For billionaire György Gattyán’s new Solution Movement (MEMO) party, only seven out of 99 individual candidates got over 2% of the vote, so the party has to repay 108 million Ft. (US $316,000) in election subsidies for its other 92 candidates.

MEMO’s party list, however, got nearly 59,000 votes, or 1.05% of the vote. Reaching the critical 1% threshold means that the party does not have to repay 588 million Ft. ($1.72 million) it received in state funding for its national list. Only 2,807 votes depended on not the party not having to repay this amount. [Magyar Hang]

Bolsonaro Congratulates Orbán on Election Victory

Several government and religious leaders have congratulated Viktor Orbán in the past few days on Fidesz’s victory in the April 3 elections, including Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, said Bertalan Havasi, head of the Prime Minister’s Press Office to state news agency MTI. [HVG]

At Least 160 Elections Still to Be Held This Year

The parliamentary elections on April 3 weren’t the last time Hungarian voters will be asked to go to the polls this year. At least 160 special elections for local municipalities and national self-governments were postponed because of the pandemic, but dates for these elections can now be held, writes Index.

This number will continue to go up, however, as mayors and municipal council members elected to Parliament on April 3 will also have to be replaced in special elections. [Index]

Nézőpont: Opposition Voters Blame Gyurcsány and Márki-Zay Instead of United Opposition for Defeat

57% of active voters blame opposition politicians Ferenc Gyurcsány and Péter Márki-Zay alike for the united opposition’s defeat in the April 3 elections, according to a new poll by pro-government polling company Nézőpont, as reported in Magyar Nemzet.

46% of all active voters, and 25% of opposition voters, believe that the six-party opposition alliance was not the reason for the electoral defeat. [Telex]

Dialogue Will Run Its Own Candidates in 2024 EP elections

Dialogue is maintaining its alliance with MSZP, but will run its own candidates in the European Parliament elections in 2024, Dialogue MP Bence Tordai said in an interview with Telex on Tuesday. “There’s no change, but it’s not rational for them or for us to run joint candidates in the EP elections,” he said.

The green party’s main candidate will be Benedek Jávor, and they have their own message, he told the news portal.

With Budapest Mayor and Dialogue Co-Chair Gergely Karácsony planning to step down from the party’s leadership, the mayor has said he prefers Tordai to take over as his successor. [Magyar Hang]