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Category: Election

Jobbik puts Roma politician on its party candidate list

picture of Ferenc Varga and Péter Jakab

Ferenc Varga is a very talented, pro-active, hard-working young man. ➡️ He has a degree in economics, and has led the Roma ethnic self-government in Szegvár since 2014.

-wrote Jobbik President Péter Jakab on social media as he introduced the party’s latest candidate. Jakab stated that the party wanted to run Varga as a candidate in the primary elections last fall, but the Roma politician declined the offer. Now, Jobbik is offering Varga a place on the joint party list of candidates being drawn up by the opposition coalition.

Feri! You have signed up for this job. It’s a tough task, and you didn’t ask for a seat for in Parliament for it. And that’s exactly why you deserve it.

-wrote the Jobbik chair.

In the televised debate for opposition candidates vying for the prime ministerial nomination on September 24 last year, Péter Márki-Zay asked the four other candidates to provide leading spots on the joint opposition list to members of the Roma community.

All of the other candidates pledged to do this except for Péter Jakab, who said he was not a fan of quotas. Jakab referred to this earlier comment in his Facebook post:

As I’ve said to you and to Péter Márki-Zay: I do not support quotas. Talent, however, I do. Regardless of origin.

Since the televised debate, Márki-Zay later won the opposition’s nomination for prime minister, and has repeatedly brought up what the other candidates pledged to do during the debate.

Jobbik’s announcement is the party’s response to him, and Márki-Zay himself acknowledged this in a comment he left on Jakab’s post, writing:

I pay respect to Jobbik’s decision, as I consider it extraordinarily important that Hungary’s gypsy population are given real representation in Parliament. Good luck, Ferenc!

[444]

Péter Márki-Zay wants to nominate Gábor Iványi for head of state

picture of Gábor Iványi

Four weeks before the election for Hungary’s head of state, the opposition parties have still not chosen anyone as a joint candidate to run against Fidesz’s designated nominee, Katalin Novák. But Péter Márki-Zay, their candidate for prime minister, has come out in support of Gábor Iványi (pictured) for the post, writes Telex.

Opposition leader Márki-Zay believes that the pastor, former parliamentary representative, and head of the Oltalom Charity Society and the Hungarian Evangelical Brotherhood would be a good choice, as he is capable of integrating the country and is someone that all political sides could get behind. Márki-Zay made clear that until the six-party coalition unites around a single candidate for the March 10 election, Iványi is his only preference.

Asked by Telex, Iványi said he would accept the nomination if requested. He also said, however, that if all six opposition parties jointly support another candidate, he will not contest the nomination and gladly support that person as well. In the meantime, an online petition has been launched in support of Iványi’s nomination.

One problem with officially nominating Iványi as the united opposition’s candidate for head of state is that Jobbik, the second-strongest party in the coalition, prefers an internationally-recognized Hungarian professor as its head of state nominee.

It seems unlikely that the United for Hungary coalition would be able to nominate a candidate for head of state without Jobbik; an official nomination for the post requires a minimum of 40 Members of Parliament to give their assent, but DK, MSZP, Dialogue, and LMP combined only have 35 MPs.

Originally, the united opposition decided that it would hold another primary election to choose a candidate for head of state, as it did for its prime ministerial candidate, but it later scrapped those plans.

Péter Márki-Zay noted that in the future, the President of Hungary should be chosen by citizens instead of by Parliament, and he promised that if able to form a government, he will work to change the laws accordingly.

[HVG]

Election will hinge on 26 close districts, says Karácsony

picture of Gergely Karácsony

Gergely Karácsony thinks that the opposition coalition will sweep all of Budapest’s 18 electoral districts in the parliamentary elections on April 3, according to background discussions the Mayor held with reporters on Friday.

Karácsony expressed confidence that the opposition would win every constituency in the metropolitan Budapest region, and even believes that the swing districts around Vác and Szentendre are winnable.

Overall, the Mayor expects the election to be very close. Out of Hungary’s 106 total electoral districts, Karácsony estimates that both Fidesz-KDNP and the United for Hungary opposition are certain to get 40 seats each, but the remaining 26 seats are toss-ups.

The Mayor also said that during the campaign he will be appearing alongside opposition candidates mostly in the capital and in the surrounding region.

Gergely Karácsony feels there is a good chance that at least five candidates from his party, Dialogue, will be able to enter Parliament after the election, allowing them to form their own group in the National Assembly.

[ATV]

OSCE recommends a full-scale election observation mission to Hungary

picture of voting station

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]

Billboards call attention to Orbán’s unwillingness to debate Péter Márki-Zay

picture of Tibor Bana and billboard

The joint prime ministerial candidate for the opposition, Péter Márki-Zay, is “constantly being attacked because he does not tolerate stealing,” claims the Everybody’s Hungary Movement (MMM). At the same time, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán lies, which is why he is afraid to confront Márki-Zay in a debate.

MMM has now launched a nationwide billboard campaign to make Hungarians aware of these things, announced Tibor Bana, Member of Parliament from Vas County and MMM coordinator (pictured), on Friday.

Bana said that 1,300 billboards had been put up around the country to highlight the importance of a debate between the two main candidates for prime minister.

Márki-Zay has invited Prime Minister Viktor Orban and János Lázár, his opponent in the individual constituency where he is also running, to debate him, but neither of them took him up on the offer.

“He’s afraid to debate because he lies!”

“In every country, in every committed democracy, it is important that the prime ministerial candidates contrast their views with each other on various issues,” Tibor Bana said in the outdoor news conference on February 4.

Tibor Bana said that in addition to the posters, seven cars will also be driving around to get their message across to voters.

During the campaign period that officially starts on February 12, Fidesz will have ten times as many billboards as the opposition, so this is what we have to compete with.

-said Tibor Bana.

Tibor Bana added that on February 12, the day the election campaign officially starts, the United for Hungary opposition coalition will launch its own billboard campaign.

[HVG][Photos: Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom / Facebook]

Opposition coalition would bring Hungary into eurozone, end flat tax rate

picture of euro statue

The euro could become Hungary’s currency in five years, said representatives of the United for Hungary opposition coalition in describing their economic policy program, as reported by news agency MTI. The politicians discussed adopting the euro, the tax system, and inflation at an event on economic policy.

Tamás Mellár of Dialogue believes that bringing Hungary into the eurozone could take five years, but the Maastricht criteria still have to be met, so the forint exchange rate must be kept within a narrow range. In addition, the “devaluation policy” of the Orbán government will have to come to an end, he said.

DK’s László Varju stated that the lack of political will over the past ten years has prevented Hungary from getting closer to adopting the euro.

Another representative, Antal Csardi from LMP, believes that Hungary should have multiple tax brackets instead of a flat personal income tax rate, and that the minimum wage should be tax-free. Csárdi would also rethink the multi-rate VAT system. Multinational companies in Hungary pay only a third in taxes compared to smaller Hungarian companies, which he considers unacceptable.

Zoltán Vajda, representing the MSZP and the Everybody’s Hungary Movement, said that the central bank’s inflation policy is irresponsible, and continuous interest rate increases by the central bank do not strengthen the forint.

[Magyar Hang][Photo: C.Suthorn / cc-by-sa-4.0 / commons.wikimedia.org]

As many as 267 parties could be running in this year’s election

picture of man voting

Nearly 270 parties could theoretically take part in Hungary’s April 3 parliamentary elections, as there are 267 parties legally registered with the National Court Office, writes state news agency MTI. Roughly half of these have been registered just in the past four years, with 58 parties approved last year and five parties so far in 2022.

Parties that want to run in an election also have to register their intent with the National Election Commission (NVB).

NVB told MTI that it had already registered 46 organizations for this year’s parliamentary elections. For the 2018 elections, the committee registered 101 parties and all 13 national self-government organizations.

To draw up a national party list, parties have to nominate candidates in at least 14 counties or the capital, as well as in 71 individual electoral districts. National lists must be sent to NVB by 4:00pm on February 26 at the latest.

On Thursday, NVB registered three more organizations who plan to take part in the election: the National Ruthenian Self-Government, the Romanian National Self-Government of Hungary, and the Historical Party of the Social Democrats.

However, the National Roma Self-Government was not able to come to an agreement on its candidates during its General Assembly on Monday, which means that it won’t be able to set up a national list for the April 3 elections.

[Telex, Index]

Hungarians voting from abroad have net 28 new polling locations this year

picture of Hungarian man voting

It can still be difficult for Hungarians who have moved abroad to cast a vote in the country’s parliamentary elections, but will get a bit easier this year with extra polling locations opening up overseas.

Voters with a Hungarian address but residing abroad on the day of the April 3 election will have a total of 146 polling stations in foreign diplomatic missions to choose from. Since to the 2018 election, twenty-nine new diplomatic missions have opened, while one in Tripoli closed during that time.

According to state news agency MTI, 118 Hungarian diplomatic missions hosted polling locations in the 2018 parliamentary elections.

Since that time, missions have opened in Houston and Miami (USA), Innsbruck (Austria), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Nicosia (Cyprus), Tallinn (Estonia), Lyon and Strasbourg (France), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Montreal and Vancouver (Canada), Guangzhou (China), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Vientiane (Laos), Gdansk and Wroclaw (Poland), Luxembourg City (Luxembourg), Valletta (Malta), Nuremberg (Germany), Muscat (Oman), Ramallah (Palestine), Panama City (Panama), Malaga (Spain), Geneva (Switzerland), Dakar (Senegal), Banská Bystrica (Slovakia), Kampala (Uganda), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Lusaka (Zambia).

Hungarian citizens with a permanent residence in Hungary may vote in one of its foreign dipomatic missions, but they must register in advance and state that they will not be in the country. Comparatively, ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries without an address in Hungary are able to vote absentee by mail, although only for political parties and not for individual candidates.

The non-partisan organization Freie Ungarische Botschaft believes that this situation is discriminatory towards Hungarians working abroad, and that it frequently necessitates long travel for them to get to a voting location. For example, in the previous election there were only three polling locations in Australia and two in Canada despite the enormous size of these countries.

Last month, a group of Hungarians living in the U.K. petitioned the government to open up 12 new polling stations in cities around the country, but the list above shows that there won’t be any new polling locations in Britain this year.

[HVG]

Election campaign to officially start on Feb. 12

picture of Hungarian polling location

As previously reported, President János Áder has set April 3 as the date for Hungary’s parliamentary election.

Justice Minister Judit Varga has also issued a decree on the starting times and deadlines for the upcoming election. The most important of these are the following:

  • The official campaign period will run from February 12 to 7:00pm on April 3, 2022.
  • The election office shall issue nominee forms as soon as possible to those requesting them, but no earlier than Februar 12, 2022.
  • Party-list candidates must be announced no later than 4:00pm on February 26, 2022.
  • Requests to alter a candidate’s registration status must arrive at the local election office no later than 4:00pm on March 25, 2022.
  • Registration requests for voting at a Hungarian diplomatic mission abroad must be received no later than 4:00pm on 25 March 25, 2022.

Telex also reports that election notices to voters will be sent out prior to the campaign period, as the National Election Office will be informing them starting on February 5 that they have been included in the official voting registry.

Those eligible to vote in Hungary who have not received this notice by March 8, the twenty-fifth day before the election, should notify their local election office.

[444]

Hungary’s parliamentary elections to be held on April 3

picture of Hungarian ballot box

President János Áder announced on his website today that he had chosen April 3 as the date for Hungary’s parliamentary elections. As he wrote:

32 years ago, Hungary became an independent, democratic country after its first free elections. Thanks go to all who have taken part in rebuilding the nation.

This year, for the ninth time, the citizens of Hungary with the right to vote are free to decide who they will entrust with the management of our common affairs.

The Basic Law and the Electoral Procedure Act contain clear provisions on the date by which the President of Hungary can set a general election to decide Members of Parliament.

Based on this statutory mandate, I hereby set a general election for Members of Parliament at the earliest possible date, April 3, 2022.

The National Electoral Office (NVI) issued a news release on the announcement as well:

For the first time in Hungary, around 8.2 million voters will be able to express their opinion in referendums held at the same time as parliamentary elections. The Office will once again provide the electorate with non-partisan information, and will soon update the Election Information System and the election information website. From the start of the campaign until the end of the election, valasztas.hu will be available for anyone who wants to visit it. NVI also encourages voters to register as a member of the vote counting committee. In this way, everyone will be able to individually contribute to keeping the elections pure and making them run smoothly and transparently, which is in our common interest.

On Instagram, Viktor Orbán announced: “We’ll be there!”

Earlier in the day, news had appeared of a seemingly-official document which indicated that the election would be on April 3. NVI claimed that it was not an official document, but just a rough draft with the first possible date of the election on it.

[444]

Opposition coalition United for Hungary announces first seven spots on its common party list

While a complete joint party list has not been decided on yet, the United for Hungary opposition coalition has chosen its top seven places on that list. The candidates who competed to be the nominee for prime minister take up the first five spots, followed by Bertalan Tóth from MSZP and Péter Ungár from LMP in the sixth and seventh places, respectively.

In Hungary’s parliamentary system, 93 seats in the National Assembly are allocated from party lists based on each party’s electoral results. As the six-party United for Hungary coalition is running as a single party in this election, they are combining their candidates onto a single national list.

By prior agreement, the first five places on the list will be composed of the five candidates from the prime ministerial primary election, ranked according to their final results.

This means that the top of the opposition’s national ticket will be the following politicians, with their party affiliations:

  1. Péter Márki-Zay (nominee for prime minister)
  2. Klára Dobrev, DK
  3. Gergely Karácsony, Dialogue
  4. Péter Jakab, Jobbik
  5. András Fekete-Győr, Momentum
  6. Bertalan Tóth, MSZP
  7. Péter Ungár, LMP

The United for Hungary coalition worked out some disputed issues at the party chair level without their prime ministerial-nominee Péter Márki-Zay present, reports Telex. If they are unable to agree in this way on specific campaign issues and decisions related to day-to-day operational issues, Péter Márki-Zay and his team will cast the deciding vote.

They also accepted 33 of Márki-Zay’s proposed changes to disputed parts of their policy platform, according to the article.

In addition, the party leaders resolved to set Hungary on the path of joining the Eurozone and introducing the common European currency within five years. Regarding the Budapest-Belgrade high speed rail line promoted by the current government, the parties and Péter Márki-Zay will not pledge to terminate the project, but review it and consider shutting it down if necessary.

At the same time, there are still controversial issues that divide the group. Jobbik, for example, vetoed support for gay marriage in the joint opposition platform, and no real decision, meaning an actual six-party resolution, has been made yet on Péter Márki-Zay’s request to put three Roma politicians on the party list.

Telex adds that the campaign will begin to get more visibly active this week: three million copies of their campaign newspaper are being printed up, and billboards will start to pop up with the opposition’s unified image and design.

[atv.hu]

New image, new focus: United for Hungary starting to run a tighter, more disciplined campaign

United for Hungary leaders on stage

Hungary’s joint opposition, the newly-christened Unity for Hungary, has started to run a tighter campaign, with a new image and greater trust placed in experts and advisors, and a change from the disjointed communication efforts that have characterized the past few months, writes Index. However, challenges still remain and not all issues in the coalition have been resolved.

Messaging has been United for Hungary’s biggest challenge

The biggest issue for United for Hungary in the past few months has been coordinating its messaging, according to the news portal. Prior to the primary elections last fall, the six-party coalition communicated its decisions, announcements, and policy positions in pre-agreed joint statements and press conferences.

But after Péter Márki-Zay gained the confidence of the primary electorate to be the leader for the opposition coalition in the spring parliamentary elections, it has proved to be a challenge for both the new prime ministerial candidate and the parties supporting him to adapt to one another.

Péter Márki-Zay’s occasionally divisive public statements have raised eyebrows even amongst his allies, which appear to outsiders as cracks in the coalition.

One example is the New Year’s statement put out by Márki-Zay mentioning that Hungary’s elderly had been “decimated” by the pandemic, a statement that caused commotion not only in the pro-government media but also within United for Hungary itself.

The prime ministerial candidate also claimed that “the majority of the elderly voted for Fidesz,” but young people are more “critical of the government.” Jobbik President Péter Jakab appeared to address these comments when he stated in an interview that “Death does not choose based on party sympathy, and, it seems, neither does stupidity.”

The mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, apparently stung by the criticism, said on news channel ATV that he would apologize for his comments if it made anyone happier. In response to this comment, Péter Jakab remarked that “Even a smart person can say stupid things, but it takes someone even smarter to realize when he’s said something wrong and is able to apologize for it.”

Márki-Zay’s plans for a seventh parliamentary caucus have caused friction

The opposition has also been divided over the issue of a seventh caucus in Parliament. After winning the opposition’s primary election to be its nominee for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay announced an interest in setting up a new center-right party and seventh parliamentary caucus.

However, the six-party opposition did not react positively to the idea of expanding the coalition. Péter Jakab and his Jobbik party have openly rejected it, and ATV reported that none of the opposition parties have given any substantial support to the initiative.

Once again, the joint prime minister-designate retreated, saying that although he would be willing to let go of his plans for a seventh caucus, he still held out hope that the parties would revisit the issue at a later time. Márki-Zay also told ATV that it wasn’t true that all of the members in the six-party United for Hungary coalition were against his desire to form a new caucus.

Index asked the opposition parties individually about the issue of forming a new caucus, and received answers from LMP, Dialogue, and Momentum, who all sent out an identical response:

We do not intend to hold consultations on this in public. As soon as a decision is made, we will of course inform the voters and the press about it.

In addition, there has still been no agreement yet on a joint party candidate list, but the parties have until the end of the month to complete it. It is not even clear whether Péter Márki-Zay will be able to put any of his preferences on a final list. An earlier agreement amongst the parties stated that the five prime ministerial candidates will be ranked on their joint list in the order of their final primary results.

Harmonizing communication efforts and unifying their image

While there are still open questions, it now seems certain that the coalition wants to communicate in a more focused and conscientious way. One of the first steps taken in this regard was a decision announced to the press that as of December 28, 2021, a central press department would be handling all requests related to the campaign.

United for Hungary has also added experts to beef up its communication efforts. In the beginning of December, ATV’s television host András Simon joined Péter Márki-Zay’s campaign, and just this month, another television reporter, Judit Péterfi, became the spokesperson for Unity for Hungary.

Péterfi introduced herself at the opposition’s most recent press conference on their proposed national referendum on January 5, and she insisted that reporters stay on topic during the event, not even allowing Péter Márki-Zay to answer an unrelated questions from a reporter.

United for Hungary press conference
United for Hungary holds a press conference at Nyugati Square, Budapest, January 5, 2022

Coordinated communication efforts are also reflected in the new design elements of the coalition, which were rolled out a few days ago. Leading opposition politicians have already changed their social media profiles to reflect the change, and we can expect to see posters and banners with this image around the country soon.

The new design uses a blue, turquoise, and white color scheme and the slogan “Hungary belongs to all of us!” In addition, the logos of all six parties as well as Péter Márki-Zay’s Everybody’s Hungary Movement appear under the phrase “Unity for Hungary.”

picture of logo
United for Hungary’s newly-unveiled design theme

When Index asked on what basis the design elements were created and what the colors symbolized, the United for Hungary campaign gave a brief and concise answer:

The design elements of Unity for Hungary and their symbolism reflect electoral victory.

-the campaign stated.

Márki-Zay determined to “make any compromise necessary” for victory

In his latest “MZPercek” video posted to Facebook, Péter Márki-Zay mentioned that the opposition is just a hair’s breadth away from wrapping up all contentious issues in the coalition. But he also noted that in the past three months, there were still “debates from the primary elections going on,” and “many actors and parties often viewed each other as opponents.”

Márki-Zay feels that the next few weeks of the campaign should not be taken up by petty squabbling about places on the party list.

I am ready to make any compromise necessary to win.

-he declared.

The opposition leader also said that he and the parties would soon conclude a “a new kind of ‘blood deal’” that would tie up any disputed and divisive issues.

Márki-Zay does not believe that the six opposition parties in the United for Hungary coalition are trying to suppress him, but he realizes that his plans to form a seventh caucus complicate their own priorities. As he phrased it:

Of course, they have interests related to power, party funding, gaining mandates, and their party lists, and a seventh caucus seems to be competing with these interests … it is obvious that they do not want to comply with my request.

However, the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely also wrote:

If anyone thought we would be able to work together without controversy and conflict, they were wrong. If anyone had hoped that we would not be able to compromise and unite, they don’t know us well. The new majority lined up behind a unified image yesterday. We have a policy platform, we have a team, we have a common flag and we have a plan for Hungary. Which can no longer be only for the privileged few. Hungary belongs to all of us!

Index’s source in the United for Hungary campaign told the news portal said that its messaging efforts will be much more disciplined from now on, and that Péter Márki-Zay will pay more attention to what his experts and advisors have to say.

[Index]