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THE NEW HUNGARIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM

SZZADVG FOUNDATION

Contents
Introduction The Objective of This Paper Previous vs. New Hungarian Electoral System Minor Shift toward the Majority System Emergence of the Hungarian Electoral System After the Political Changes The Hungarian Electoral System after the Political Changes The New Hungarian Electoral System Impact of the New Electoral System Proportionality of Constituencies Remedying Decade-long Shortcomings Voting Rights for Hungarians Living in Neighbouring Countries a European-conform Solution Parliamentary Representation of National Minorities Living in Hungary Progress in the Protection of Minority Rights The Right to Vote as a Fundamental Right Closing the Gap in International Expectations Full-time MPs End of Multiple Mandates Transformation of the Candidacy System Changes Aimed at Eradicating Abuse Changing Campaign Rules A More Transparent System The Electoral Management Bodies System Stronger Organisational Autonomy The Electoral Legal Redress Procedure High Level Protection Remains in Place 2 3 3 6 10 13 16 22 28 33 37 39 42 46 50

Voting by Persons with Disabilities Enhanced Equal Opportunity 53

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

Introduction the Objective of this Paper


Voters having the right to decide about who exercises the supreme power of state at set intervals and under appropriately regulated circumstances is the fundamental precondition underlying the operation of every modern democratic state. Elections constitute an essential tool for the functioning of the democratic institutional system and are also a fundamental right. Consequently, the reform of the electoral system almost always generates political and legal debate.

Reducing the number of MPs and the introduction of preferential naturalisation were the main reasons for reforming the electoral system.

The transformation of public law began after the general election of 2010, which, following the adoption of the Fundamental Law, also engendered the amendment of regulations relating to exercising certain fundamental rights, as well as key institutions of public law. The reformulation of substantive electoral law, followed by rules pertaining to the election procedure was carried out within this framework. Decreasing the number of MPs, which the Fundamental Law defined as 199 instead of 386 set the trajectory of the amendment of election rules. Moreover, permanent residency in Hungary no longer constituted a precondition for voting, as stipulated in the Fundamental Law, which paved the way for Hungarian citizens living beyond the borders of the country to vote in Hungarian elections. This created an entirely new situation, and ensuring the right to vote for new voters living outside the country was also to be incorporated in the new electoral laws. While the mixed system was retained, the most substantive overhaul to the electoral system involved introducing a simple and more transparent dual ballot system (single-member constituencies and national party lists) replacing the ternary system (single-member constituencies, regional party lists, national party lists). Moreover, electoral reform also provided the opportunity to incorporate the experiences of the six general elections, six local government elections, two European Parliament elections and numerous by-elections held over the past twenty years in the electoral system, making it more efficient and more transparent. However, the way in which issues that caused numerous anomalies during previous elections could also be sorted out was an even more relevant aspect of electoral reform. These anomalies were threatening the legitimacy, fairness and cleanliness of elections, in which regard both Hungarian and international forums solicited intervention. Ensuring proportionality between constituencies or eliminating the anomalies of the recommendation system are two prime examples for how the new electoral system opened the opportunity to make amends for problems that have been persisting for decades. 2

Besides eliminating problems experienced earlier, the aim of the reform is to create a simpler and more transparent system.

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

The aim of the present paper is to present the changes and key trajectories of electoral reform carried out within the framework of the transformation of public law. This paper does not focus on presenting election rules and the electoral system in full detail. It simply wishes to highlight certain points that have substantively changed in accordance with the new laws and have in some cases also been under fire.

Previous vs. New Hungarian Electoral System Minor Shift toward the Majority System
Emergence of the Hungarian Electoral System after the Political Changes
MSZMP as well as the parties in opposition endeavoured to enforce the principle of minimum risk.
After the collapse of communism, existing models and alternatives determined the architecture of electoral systems in Central and Eastern Europe, with the perception of the political players shaping the targets set and finally deals concluded between political groups determining the outcome of negotiations. These three factors also determined the form of the electoral system adopted in Hungary during the period of political transition. In Hungary, both MSZMP (the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party) and the parties in opposition endeavoured to enforce the principle of minimum risk when the National Round Table negotiations began in 1989. During this particular period, the Hungarian electoral system was not designed on the grounds of some sort of elaborate and comprehensive plan wishing to satisfy presumed or actual social needs, but was codified by piecing together different elements. Both the Opposition Round Table (EKA) and the party controlling the state (MSZMP) attempted to establish a system through which they could have maximised the parliamentary representation of their respective parties and enabled the new party elite1 to win seats.

Schiemann, J. W. 2000. The Electoral Law. In: Andrs Bozki edit. The Script of the Regime Change: The Minutes of the Hungarian Roundtable Negotiations in 1989 Volume 7 Constitutional Revolution Papers, p. 540
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SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System This is why setting up different electoral systems was in the interest of political powers with different facilities; however, the electoral system-related preferences of the parties also changed due to changes in power relations and lack of information associated with the former. During the negotiations, MSZMP initially proposed having 80% of the seats decided in single-member constituencies with the remaining 20% allocated from national party, compensation lists. Voters would have only had a single ballot in this system. The proportional system would have been more advantageous for the historical parties who were more well-known to the people. At the same time, the Independent Smallholders Party backed the introduction of the mixed system, leaving one-third of the seats for the single-member constituencies. The Free Democratic Alliance, which party was less well-known, but whose caucus included several well-known public figures, proposed that 75% of representatives should be elected to parliament from single-member constituencies. Based on internal compromise, the Opposition Round Table ended up proposing a mixed system in which half of the seats could be won in single-member constituencies and the other half from the national party lists. Contrary to the communists proposal, EKA backed the dual ballot system.2 MSZMP accepted the proposal put forth by the opposition that voters should have two ballots; however, was initially unwilling to make any compromise in respect of the proportion of representatives elected off the national party list. Public opinion poll data revealing that MDF is far more popular than MSZMP convinced the top party leaders that a more proportionate system would be more advantageous for MSZMP. After this episode, the communists proposed that proportionality, majority representation and compensation should equally be incorporated in the new electoral system. The opposition essentially accepted this; however, disagreed with voters casting ballots on the national party list and instead wanted 19 constituencies for the counties and one for Budapest, in which constituencies ballots could be cast for the party lists. In collaboration with the experts of the Ministry of Interior they eventually agreed on a system in which 70 seats are allocated from the national party list on the grounds of fractional votes, 152 seats based on proportionality and likewise 152 based on absolute majority. However, the relatively low number of seats that could be won in single-member constituencies prompted an outcry in the last undemocratically elected parliament.
Schiemann, J. W. 2000. The Electoral Law. In: Andrs Bozki edit. The Script of the Regime Change: The Minutes of the Hungarian Roundtable Negotiations in 1989 Volume 7 Constitutional Revolution Papers, p. 540
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Party preferences also changed because of changing power relations and the lack of information.

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System Finally, EKA came up with a compromise proposing to decrease the number of seats that can be won from the compensation list to 58 and increase the number of seats that can be won in single-member constituencies to 176. Eventually, the National Assembly approved 386 seats and the proposal setting out the breakdown of 58-152-176. In the midst of the round table discussions, the MSZMP Nmeth Government delineated the single-member constituencies within its own scope of authority. In view of how during the course of negotiations the emphasis was on other components of the electoral system, the constituencies were finalised without any major opposition on behalf of the democratic powers in opposition based on the orders given by the single party in power and without negotiating. The designing of the Hungarian electoral system during the period of political transition can be well-described with the help of models relating to profit maximising through political negotiation.3 Endeavours relating to the enforcement of the interests of political parties eclipsed theoretical issues, such as, the issue of political representation for minorities, and forced these into the background. During the transitional period, the electoral law was fathomed through party deals, with the perception the communists had about their very own interests having a decisive impact. In the meantime, the political leaders of MSZMP realised early enough, that their candidates running in single-member constituencies are incapable of winning the majority of votes, which is how the party managed to avoid the Croatian scenario. The Croatian communists hoped that the majority system would be advantageous for them, but in 1990 the opposition won a landslide election victory thanks to the majority electoral system. In Hungary, after the first free elections no single party or coalition won by such a majority that would have made it possible to change the cardinal laws, which is why the negotiatory transition branded the next two decades. At the same time, two changes relevant from a political perspective nevertheless did take place. The threshold for securing a seat in parliament was raised from 4% to 5% in 1994 and in 1997 the National Assembly passed legislation stipulating that parties must each separately reach the 5% threshold in the case of so-called joint lists.4

When the political system changed the electoral law materialised through party deals, and the perception that the communists had of their own interests decisively impacted it.

Birch, S. et al. 2002. Embodying Democracy. Electoral System Design in Post-Communist Europe, p. 65 4 Dezs, M. Tth, Z. 2002. Elections and the Voting Procedure. Rejtjel, p. 70
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The Hungarian Electoral System after the Political Changes


It was one of the most complex electoral systems in Europe.
The two-vote system incorporating the distribution of seats according to three various principles created during the period of political transition was one of the most complex electoral systems in Europe. Citizens cast one vote for parties on regional party lists, on the basis of which votes regional party list seats were distributed by applying the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota.5 Amaximum of 152 seats was distributed through these regional party lists, with the remainder (20-25 seats) going to the national party list. Votes that were not decisive in terms of winning a seat off the regional party list were added to the fractional votes, whilst in the event of the application of the two-thirds rule, the difference between the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota and the number of votes cast was deducted. Significant disproportionality was identified here too as the outcome of the 20 regional party list electoral districts. This considerable margin did not result in any deviation in respect of the number of seats won by the parties due to the low district magnitudes. In practice, due to the implicit threshold, small parties had no chance of winning seats because of the regional party lists, as a result of which the larger parties were over-represented.6 Regional party lists are generally applied in countries that have exclusively adopted a proportional system in order for regional representation to also appear in parliament. However, single-member constituencies have already filled this function in Hungary, while voters are unaware of the regional dimension of party lists, which is why several parties, civil society organisations and think tanks called for this list to be replaced by a national party list.7

Several organisations and think tanks backed replacing regional party lists with national party lists.

The quota was calculated by adding up the total number of votes cast in regional list constituencies, which was divided the number of distributable seats plus one. The number of seats distributable on the regional party list was equivalent to the ratio between the number of votes cast for parties and the quota. The so-called two-thirds rule was applied if a seat could not be distributed in a given constituency through the above means, i.e., the party that reached two-thirds of the quota could also win a seat. 6 Fbin Gy. 1999. A magyar vlasztsi rendszer kelet-kzp-eurpai sszehasonltsban (The Political Changes in Hungary in Central-Eastern Comparison). Politikatudomnyi Szemle (Political Science Review), Issue 3, pp. 116-118; Krsnyi A. et al. 2003. A magyar politikai rendszer. (The Hungarian Political System) Budapest, Osiris, pp. 244-248 7 For example: Medin-HVG 2009 Proposal for Reforming the Electoral System http://www.median.hu/object.045a478f-a27e-45a1-9b3f-70de273397f8.ivy
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Voters could cast their other vote for individual candidates. The disproportionaility of the Hungarian electoral system does not lie in the unique components of the proportional system of lists, but is to be sought in its single-member constituency dimension.8 However, from the very beginning the objective of this was to ensure a clear majority for the winner, hence facilitating governability.9

The absolute majority vote through a two-round system was also widely criticised.

The majority electoral system was a two-round system. Voting conducted in 176 single-member constituencies also had to comply with validity and efficiency criteria.10 In the 1990s, typically after a valid, yet indecisive first round, the fate of seats was decided in the second round. As an outcome of the concentration of the party system, decisive first round voting became more and more common in the 2000s. Even candidates finishing in third place typically stood for election in the second round in 1990 and 1994. However, in 1998, as a main rule candidates ranked in third place withdrew in favour of one of the other candidates as a result of the polarised party system. The Hungarian electoral system was much criticised by those opposing that small parties could potentially gain a disproportionate position of extortion. The withdrawal of the candidates of smaller parties could considerably influence the outcome of the election in a tight race in a two-round voting system. The objective of the national party list was to reduce disproportionality ensuing from the results of the regional party list and single-member constituencies. Votes cast for the national party list in which case a seat was not won by any given party that failed to reach the 5% threshold at a national level were counted as fractional votes of the regional party list and were transferred and counted as the compensation ballots as well as negative ballots by applying the two-thirds rule.

Szoboszlai Gy. Kpviselet s arnyossg. A vlasztsi rendszer reform-irnyai (Representation and Proportionality. Directions of the Reform of the Electoral System). In: Stumpf I. (edit.): Kt vlaszts kztt (In Between Two Elections). Budapest, Szzadvg, 1997, p. 30 9 Tth Cs. 2002. A magyar vlasztsi rendszer mkdse (How the Hungarian Electoral System Works). http://www.ajk.elte.hu/file/TothCsaba-ValasztasiRedszer.pdf 10 If over 50% of eligible voters cast their votes in the first round, i.e., the round was valid, and the winning candidate obtained over half of the votes, this candidate won in the first round and the second round was cancelled. If the first round of voting was not valid, only 25% of eligible voters had to turn out for the second round for this round to be valid and every first-round candidate could re-run in the second round. If the first round was valid without a obtaining a final result, the first three candidates, or any candidate that won at least 15% of the votes was eligible to run in the second round. The candidate that received the most votes won the second round.
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Ballots cast in single-member constituencies for candidates that did not win were transferred to the national party list of the nominating party. In theory, a minimum of 58 seats could be distributed from the compensation list; however, in practice, additional seats were transferred from the regional party list. Seats were distributed based on fractional votes by applying the DHondt method.11

Making amends for two-decades-long shortcomings, the need to accurately define election rules and the election promise made to reduce the number of the political elite made it necessary to reform the electoral system.

Altogether six elections were held in Hungary on the grounds of the electoral system adopted in 1989. The adoption of the 1997 rules of procedure was the biggest change to rules pertaining to voting rights since the political changes took place. Aside from technical problems, in spite of how international election observers did not find anything that could have effectively influenced the outcome of an election, election fraud was nevertheless suspected on numerous instances. Inaddition, the electoral system had several neuralgic points that were criticised time and again and which were not resolved over the past two decades (e.g.: the anomalies of the recommendation system and pre-election silence). Accordingly, the overhaul of the electoral system was one of the components of the transformation of public law in 2010, which was required for two fundamental reasons, namely: remedying two-decades long shortcomings by more accurately defining election rules and meeting a social expectation relating to reducing the number of the political elite in Hungary. To satisfy the latter, one of the very first decisions passed by the National Assembly in 2010 stipulated that, by amending the constitution, the maximum number of MPs was defined as 200 instead of 386. This measure was effectively implemented when the new electoral law that was due was passed following the adoption of the Fundamental Law. According to the so-called cube root rule, the ideal number of MPs in parliament can be calculated based on the adult population of the country that can be mobilised.12 Taking the cube root of the literate adult population is the method applied in respect of this rule. Taking a population of 8 million, this value is exactly 200 in Hungary.

Instead of 386 MPs, capping the number of MPs at 200 was the very first decision passed by the National Assembly in 2010.

This method is based on compiling a table in the first row of which the number of votes cast for individual party lists is registered, after which columns are generated, the first value of which represents half of the votes cast for the given list, with the third of the votes cast representing the next value, followed by the third and the fourth and so on. Seats are distributed with the help of this table the lists with the highest value in the table win a seat. 12 Taagepera, R. The Size of National Assemblies. Social Science Research, 1972.Vol. 1, Issue 4, pp. 385-401
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The following diagrams present the number of MPs and the number of citizens to one seat in international comparison.

Number of MPs (in the lower house in the case of two-chamber parliaments)
Germany (2009-2013) 600

France577 United Kingdom  650

Poland460 Czech Republic  Hungary (2014-) Hungary (1990-2014)


0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700

200 199 386

Number of citizens to one MP (in the lower house) (Thous. ind.)


Germany (2009-2013) 131.94

France113.26 United Kingdom  97.2

Poland83.7 Czech Republic  Hungary (2014-) Hungary (1990-2014)


02 0 40 60 80 100 120 140

52.57 49.96 25.76

Source: Szzadvg, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Eurostat

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

The New Hungarian Electoral System


Two-vote mixed system remains in place in Hungary. However, the proportion of MPs elected by majority increases from 46% to 53%.
The National Assembly passed the new electoral law on 23 December 2011 by a vote of 256 in favour to 36 against. As mentioned earlier, in accordance with the new law the number of MPs in the National Assembly decreases from 386 to 199, with the two-vote mixed system remaining in place in Hungary. However, in the new electoral system seats can only be won through two means instead of the current three. 93 MPs are elected through the proportional system in a way that the fractional votes of single-member constituencies also count, whilst 106 MPs are elected in a single-round relative majority electoral system. As a result, the proportion of MPs elected in single member constituencies changes slightly from 46% to 53%.

450 400 54% 210 350 300 250 46% 176 47% 93 53% 106 200 150 100 50 0

Distribution of seats by proportional representation (compensation) Distribution of seats by single-member constituency Source: Szzadvg

National Assembly 2009-13

National Assembly 2014-

In the new system votes are cast for parties on the national list instead of the regional party list in the case of the proportional list.

The electoral system also has a number of new components, such as votes cannot be cast for parties on the regional party list, but must instead be cast for the national party list in the proportional system, hence eliminating one of the much criticised attributes of the previous system. The new system ensures the opportunity to win parliamentary seats under preferential terms for the thirteen national minorities in Hungary through the proportional vote. Should a national minority fail to win a seat on its national list it may send a spokesperson to parliament. Ensuring the right to vote for citizens out of the country, which votes are cast for national party lists is another new feature, which complies with recommendations put forth by the Venice Commission. Seats are distributed based on the number of votes cast for national party lists and fractional votes by applying the DHondt matrix. 10

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As regards individual seats, the way in which similar size singlemember constituencies were created and that the relative majority procedure replaced the absolute majority procedure represent the two most relevant changes.

In accordance with the new electoral law, requirements for nominating candidates and forming national party lists have changed. An individual candidate must be nominated in a minimum of 27 single-member constituencies in at least 9 counties and Budapest and at least 500 recommendations from individuals registered on the electoral roll of a single-member constituency is needed in each constituency.13 Therefore, the new rules make it easier to form national party lists. The most relevant change in the single-member constituency system is that constituencies largely identical in size have been created and that the absolute majority procedure (TRS) has been replaced by a relative majority procedure (FPTP). Another key change is that there is no validity threshold for single-member constituencies in the new electoral law and that every fractional vote not required for winning the given seat will be added to the ballots cast for national party lists, hence also the difference between the number of ballots cast for the winning candidate and the number of ballots cast for the second place candidate plus one vote. The following map presents changes to constituency boundaries. Itclearly shows that the new constituencies with a blue boundary form a coherent area in a way that their boundaries coincide with county boundaries. There are no constituencies on the map that have an unusual shape raising suspicion of gerrymandering. Constituencies with strange boundaries, for example in Komrom-Esztergom County or Szabolcs-Szatmr-Bereg County, were more common in the previous system.

Until recently, at least 750 recommendation slips had to be collected in single-member constituencies. Parties that were able to nominate candidates in at least 25% of the single-member constituencies belonging to a given region, however, in no less than two districts were eligible to form a regional party list. Parties that were able to form at least seven regional lists were entitled to form national party lists.
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New Constituency Boundaries in Hungary

Source: Szzadvg, Geox Ltd.

Constituency Boundaries in Hungary until 2014

Source: Szzadvg, Geox Ltd.

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Impact of the New Electoral System


Szzadvg examined the impact of the new electoral system on the distribution of seats by applying estimation models. We added up the votes cast during the 2006 and 2010 general elections according to the new constituencies, after which we analysed the potential impact of the redrawn single-member constituencies and compensation rules on the distribution of seats.

Lessons learned from second round withdrawals and the formation of coalitions also need to be incororated in the model.

When making the model estimations, the impact of the new electoral system on the strategies and behaviour of the parties also needs to be taken into account. Taking the first round of the previous election as a basis would be highly misleading. Consequences drawn from second-round withdrawals and coalition formation must also be incorporated in the model. In 2006, SZDSZ and MSZP withdrew their respective candidate in every district in which a given candidate backed both parties had a realistic chance of winning. SZDSZ withdrew 55candidates and MSZP withdrew 3 candidates. These two parties were in government prior to the election and a left-wing government was once again formed in 2006. This implies that in their case, contrary to the absolute majority system, the relative majority system would have forced them to nominate a single joint candidate in the first round. Accordingly, when we made our model estimations we also assumed that MSZP and SZDSZ would nominate joint candidates and stand for election on a joint national party list. Mass withdrawals did not take place in 2010, which is why in this case we can take the first-round results as a basis. Until 2010, 176 seats could be won in single-member constituencies. In 2006 MSZP won 102 seats, SZDSZ won 5 seats and FIDESZ-KDNP won 68 of the seats. MSZP and SZDSZ candidates won 60.8% of the single-member constituencies, with FIDESZ-KDNP candidates winning 38.6%. According to our model estimation, in the new electoral system MSZP-SZDSZ would have won 69 of the 106 seats, with FIDESZ winning 37 seats. Consequently, left-wing candidates would have won in 65.1% of the districts, while right-wing candidates would have won in 34.9%. The right-wing won by a landslide victory in 2010 FIDESZ won 98.3% or 173 seats in the 176 single-member constituencies. MSZP won seats in two constituencies. By using the 2010 ballots as input data in our model, FIDESZ would have won in 105 districts, while MSZP would have won in 1 district (District 07 of Budapest).

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If the new electoral system had been applied in 2006, out of the 106 seats, elected in single-member constituencies, MSZP-SZDSZ would have won 69, while FIDESZ would only have won 37.

Contrary to certain analysis14, in our opinion when we were building the model we also had to take account of whether certain parties ran popular candidates in a given constituency, which is why we take the ballots cast in the former single-member constituencies as a basis during the course of modelling. In the previous electoral system, altogether 120 seats were distributed from regional and national party lists based on the number of regional party list votes cast and fractional votes. In the new system, 93 seats are distributed based on the number of ballots cast for national party lists and fractional votes. Changing the way fractional votes are counted favours the winning party - promoting governability. However, concurrently the national party list system (in relation to the regional party list system in place earlier) affects proportionality. The outcome is that the internal ratio of seats distributed from the list does not substantially change if the result is tight. However, in the event of victory by a large margin, the proportion of seats of the party receiving the highest number of votes further increases due to changes to the mode of counting fractional votes. The following table summarises the actual combined results of the elections and model estimations. In this case, the potential impact of the minority vote and votes cast by Hungarian citizens living in neighbouring countries has been excluded from the model and will be presented in the following.

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E.g.: http://hazaeshaladas.blog.hu/2011/08/05/az_uj_valasztasi_rendszer_reszletes_modellje

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Changes to Seat Distribution Based on the Results of the Elections held in 2006 and 2010
2006 FideszMSZPKDNP SZDSZ 164 210 (190+20) 42,5% 54,4% 80 40,2% 114 57,3% FideszKDNP 11 263 2,8% 68,1% 5 2,5% 152 76,4% MDF 2010 MSZP 59 15,3% 23 11,6% Jobbik LMP

Previous Electoral system New electoral system

Number Ratio Number Ratio

47 16 12,2% 4,1% 18 6 9,0% 3,0%

Source: Szzadvg, National Election Office

According to the lessons learnt from the public opinion poll conducted by Szzadvg at the end of May 2013, Fidesz is on 47% and MSZP is on 25% among definite voters, with Jobbik on 13% and LMP on 2%. 10% of voters would vote for Egytt 2014 and 1% would vote for the Democratic Coalition. A total of 2% of definite voters would vote for other parties.15 Based on the discrepancy of constituency results in the 2006 and 2010 general elections in relation to the national average, we made an estimate of how seats would be distributed in the new electoral system in the case of a voting ratio corresponding to the data gathered in the latest public opinion poll. Number of Seats Estimated Based on the Public Opinion Poll Conducted in May 2013
Seats Vote ratio Ind. List Total Seat ratio

First model estimation

Fidesz-KDNP MSZP-Egytt-PM-DK Jobbik

47% 36% 13%

80 26 0

41 37 15

121 63 15
Seats

60,8% 31,7% 7,5%

Vote ratio

Ind.

List

Total

Seat ratio

Second model estimation

Fidesz-KDNP MSZP-Egytt-PM Jobbik


Source: Szzadvg

47% 35% 13%

85 21 0

41 37 15

126 58 15

63,3% 29,1% 7,5%

Szzadvg conducted a telephone public opinion poll between 25 and 27 May 2013 polling 1,000 randomly selected adult respondents with the CATI method. Owing to the sampling procedure, there is a maximum +/- 3.2% deviation in the data published in the analysis in relation to the data that would have been generated by polling the entire adult population.
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The above table presents the vote and seat ratio of parties that would exceed the 5% threshold according to the latest polls. It is necessary to note that in this case the model disregards the turnout of voters that are currently still undecided voters, nor does it take account of the minority ballot or votes cast in neighbouring countries. The results in Table 1 present the scenario in which all left-wing parties join forces, while the estimation in Table 2 is based on the assumption that Ferenc Gyurcsnys party is left out of this coalition.

Proportionality of Constituencies Remedying Decade-long Shortcomings


The principle of equal opportunity is enforced if by and large the same number of votes is needed in every constituency to win a seat.
One of the most important attributes of the current overhaul of the electoral system is that fewer constituencies are needed as a consequence of the dramatic decrease in the number of MPs. According to Giovanni Sartori, proportionality of the electoral system is not simply a mathematical formula transposing votes to seats, but equally represents proportionality between the size of constituencies and the number of voters in relation to the number of distributable seats.16 The principle of equality serves to ensure that every vote is equal, or at least similar in weight. This is achieved if largely the same number of votes is required in every constituency to win a seat. In this regard, delineating the boundaries of constituencies is a particularly relevant issue, as is defining how many representatives can be elected in a given district in countries in which several representatives may be elected to parliament from a single constituency. International legal documents on elections also focus on these issues. Point 21 of the official comments made to Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on ensuring the right to vote stipulates that signatory states must apply the principle of one person, one vote, i.e., every persons vote must more or less be equal. Accordingly, in regard to drawing the constituency boundaries, according to the comment it is necessary to ensure that these are not disadvantageous for any given social group or minority.17

Sartori, G. 2003. Comparative Constitutional Engineering; An Inquiry into Structures, Incentives and Outcomes, 1.4, p. 21, Akadmiai Publishing, Budapest 17 General Comment No. 25: The right to participate in public affairs, voting rights and the right of equal access to public service (Art. 25): 12/07/96., point 21.
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In terms of the proportionality of constituencies, the Venice Commission deems that a 10% deviation is acceptable, allowing for a deviation of 15% only in particularly justified cases.

The electoral code of the Venice Commission also mentions that it is important to distribute seats in equal proportion among constituencies, at least in the case of the lower house and local and regional representative bodies. The Commission deems that a 10% deviation is acceptable in respect of the proportionaility of constituencies, allowing for a deviation of 15% only in particularly justified cases, for example, to protect minorities. To continually ensure proportionate constituencies the Venice Commission recommends the review of constituency boundaries at set intervals, at least every 10 years, which should preferably not take place during the election period or one year prior to an election. If there are multi-member electoral districts in a given country, instead of reviewing boundaries, the Commission in this case recommends the periodical review of the number of seats that can be won in a given electoral district.18 Both the substantive legal review and the review of rules of procedure of the electoral system have been carried out in the new public law framework. The review of substantive legal electoral rules could no longer be put off because they were the products of deals concluded over twenty years ago during the period of political transition between the political parties of the era and aligned to their respective interests, which were not duly circumspect and defined rules pertaining to the election of parliamentary MPs, as well as constituency boundaries in line with the interests of the political players of the era.19 In addition, election rules have become so outdated over the past decade, among others, the boundaries of single-member constituencies due to demographic shifts, that they had come to effectively threaten universal suffrage, the right to vote granted to all citizens. During the course of the round table discussions, the MSZMP Nmeth Government delineated the single-member constituencies within its own scope of authority and only after they were drawn was it presented to the Opposition Round Table. Since the oppositions emphasis was on other components of the electoral system during the course of negotiations, the constituencies were finalised without any major opposition on behalf of the democratic powers.

The boundaries of single-member constituencies threatened the equality of suffrage as a consequence of demographic changes.

CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in electoral Matters Schiemann, J. W. 2000. The Electoral Law. In: Andrs Bozki ed. The Script of the Regime Change: The Minutes of the Hungarian Roundtable Negotiations in 1989 Volume 7 Constitutional Revolution Papers, pp. 557-558
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There was a two and half fold difference between the size of the largest and smallest constituency in 2010.

Constituency boundaries were, therefore, determined pursuant to the decree issued by the Council of Ministers in 199020, which has never been reviewed over the past 20 years. Disproportionaility among constituencies is clearly evident when considered that there was a two and half fold difference between the size of the largest and the smallest constituency in 2010. While there were 27,073 eligible voters in District 6 of Veszprm, there were 67,092 in District 4 of Gdll in Pest County.21 Consequently, votes cast in electoral districts with a higher population were worth less than those cast in smaller districts, as an outcome of which the requirement of ensuring equal voting rights was breached. The Constitutional Court examined this for the first time in 2005 and stipulated in its decision that if the difference between the number of voters on the electoral roll of constuencies reaches 200%, this is definitely a breach of equal voting rights which the body cannot deem constitutional in any case whatsoever. In addition, the Constitutional Court defined areas the National Assembly must regulate in a cardinal law, because these constitute substantive elements for ensuring voting rights. Areas to be regulated within the scope of a cardinal law includes criteria applied for determining constituency boundaries, the degree of deviation between the size of constituencies, as well as rules of procedure, the extent of and the body carrying out the review. Although delineating concrete constituency boundaries is an implementation regulation in the context of these rules of guarantee, regulating this in a decree is, however, not sufficient and needs to be defined in a law.22 The National Assembly failed to comply with the requirements stipulated by the Constitutional Court up to the set deadline of 30 June 2007, hence a state of constitutional default emerged. Changing the existing constituency boundaries was not in the interest of the governing parties. The lack of commitment on behalf of the parties in power is well demonstrated by how the National Assembly not only failed to pass amendments requiring a two-third majority of votes, but also failed to make constituencies proportionate, for which a simple majority would have been sufficient. Finally, recognising that the body is incapable of coercing any change, in 2010 the Constitutional Court abolished the decree issued by Council of Ministers determining the boundaries and seats of constituencies, as well as provisions of the law on voting rights and the election procedure which delegates the delineation of constituency boundaries to the scope of authority of the Government.23
Council of Ministers Decree 21/1990 (I.11.) on Determining the Single-Member and Regional Constituencies in the National Assembly 21 http://www.valasztas.hu/hu/parval2010/350/350_0_index.html 22 Constitional Court Decision 22/2005 (VI. 17.) 23 Constittional Court Decision 193/2010 (XII. 8.)
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The Constitutional Court abolished the Council of Minsters Decree determining the boundaries and seats of constituencies in 2010.

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There are 76,000 voters on average to each MP in the future.

In the new electoral system lawmakers consequently decreased the number of single-member constituencies from 176 to 106 by reducing the number of MPs, as an outcome of which there will be 76,000 voters to an MP winning a seat in a single-member constituency. By decreasing the number of constituencies, for example, the number of districts in Budapest decreases to 18 from 32, with the fewest constituencies in Nogrd County where the county will be subdivided into 2 districts instead of 4 as an outcome of the changes made. The law on the election of MPs regulates the formation of constituencies at two levels. On the one hand, the law defines rules to be applied in respect of the formation of constituencies. As a basic rule, constituencies need to form a coherent area; cannot cross over county boundaries or the municipal boundaries of Budapest and the number of voters in districts should be largely identical. Districts of Budapest or a given settlement may also be subdivided into several constituencies whereby justified. To ensure equal voting rights, the law stipulates that the number of voters living in a given constituency should not deviate from the national average by a margin exceeding 15%, except if required due to the county boundaries or the coherent area, or historical, national minority, religious or other local specificities. If this deviation reaches 20% the National Assembly needs to modify constituency boundaries to restore proportionality. However, on the other hand, the annex to the law precisely defines the boundaries and seats of each constituency. The unconstitutional state that has been persisting for years in respect of constituency boundaries has therefore been rectified with the entry into force of the new law. The following map clearly demonstrates the extreme differences in place in respect of the population of certain constituencies prior to the overhaul of the electoral system. In several places there was a deviation of up to 60% in relation to the ideal population, especially in Pest County. The dispersion of the population is much lower in the new constituencies.

Constituencies must form a coherent area; they cannot cross over the boundaries of counties or the municipal Budapest and the number of voters in the districts should be largely identical.

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Distribution of the Total Population in Single-Member Constituencies (176 single-member constituencies, 1990-2011)

Source: Szzadvg, Geox Ltd.

Distribution of the Total Population in Single-member Constituencies (106 single-member constituencies from 2012)

Source: Szzadvg, Geox Ltd.

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A two-third majority is required to change constituency boundaries, which is hard to achieve with a lack of political consensus.

Pursuant to the request of the Hungarian Government, alongside other cardinal laws the Venice Commission also examined the law on the election of MPs. The Commission put forth several specific recommendations for Hungary in regard to forming constituencies in its position issued on 18 June 201224. Among others, the Commission points out that precise rules are missing from the law on the grounds of which the National Assembly defines the boundaries of constituencies. In addition, the Commission recommends adopting a 10% deviation threshold, instead of the 15% defined in the law, in relation to the national average for the number of voters in a given constituency and reviewing district boundaries at set intervals, preferably every ten years, to prevent a 20% deviation. In addition, the Venice Commission also recommends that instead of defining constituency boundaries in a law an independent body should be set up for this purpose. However, it is necessary to note that a qualified majority, i.e., a two-thirds majority, is required in Hungary to modify district boundaries, which, on the one hand, is difficult to achieve with a lack of political consensus, but at the same time serves as a guarantee to prevent the surfacing of the phenomenon of gerrymandering. Besides these recommendations, the Commission also deemed that several changes introduced by the new law are explicitly positive, such as eliminating disproportionaility among constituencies which has been persisting for several years, as well as ensuring preferential seats for national minority representatives.

CDL-AD(2012)012 Joint Opinion on the Act on the Elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary
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Voting Rights for Hungarians Living in Neighbouring Countries a European-conform Solution


The National Assembly opted for legal solutions also applied in several Central and Eastern European countries to ensure voting rights for Hungarians living in neighbouring countries.
The National Assembly passed the amendment of Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian citizenship on 26 May 2011 by a large majority, which enabled the preferential naturalisation of Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. In accordance with this amendment, any individual of Hungarian descent or any individual that presumes this and certifies language proficiency is eligible for Hungarian citizenship without having to have a place of residence in Hungary. The aim of the National Assembly, which passed this bill almost unanimously, was to enable the significant number of Hungarians living beyond the countrys borders for historical reasons to acquire citizenship preferentially anywhere around the world. The National Assembly opted for legal solutions applied in several Central-eastern European countries, which is how they managed to avoid neighbouring countries protesting against preferential naturalisation. Slovakia was the only exception, the parliament of which country passed a law banning multiple citizenship in response to the Hungarian legislative amendment. Criticism of the institution of preferential naturalisation was not espoused by any influential international organisation. 350,000 individuals have received Hungarian citizenship up to April 2013 since the law was adopted. The new citizenship law and the new electoral law were adjustments to the political system that also enabled Hungarians living in neighbouring countries to become an integral part of the political community. Permanent residency in Hungary was not stipulated as a precondition for voting rights by the Fundamental Law, hence also ensuring Hungarians that do not live in Hungary the right to vote. The overhaul of the electoral system also had to respond to the appearance due to preferential naturalisation - of a mass of several hundreds of thousands of voters in the electoral system whose data has never been registered on electoral rolls and who must be ensured the opportunity to vote on Election Day some way or other. In accordance with the preamble of the law on general elections, the National Assembly guarantees that Hungarian citizens living outside our borders are a part of the political community. However, while voters with permanent residency in Hungary are entitled to vote for one single-member constituency candidate and one national party list, voters that do not have residency in Hungary are only entitled to vote for 22

Hungarians living in neighbouring countries also became members of the political community.

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

Voters that do not have permanent residency in Hungary are only entitled to vote for the national party list.

the national party list. Consequently, contrary to citizens with a place of residence in Hungary entitled to cast two votes, citizens living in another country only have the right to cast one vote, which may also be interpreted as a half-vote. This complies with Article XXI-II(4) of the Fundamental Law stipulating that By a cardinal Act of Parliament, voters may be required to reside in Hungary in order to exercise or fully exercise their right to vote, or they may also be required to meet additional criteria to stand for election. However, lack of compliance with international conventions may arise in the case of the provision of the electoral law under scrutiny. According to Andrs Jakabs analysis, the way in which individuals that do not have residency in Hungary are only entitled to vote for the national party list may be in breach of Point b) of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e., the principle of equal right to vote.25 On the contrary, in the opinion of the Venice Commission26 the new rule can be considered good practice, because it extends the right to vote to Hungarians citizens living outside the country based on recommendations made by the advisory body, and therefore adheres to universal suffrage. According to the Venice Commission, technical circumstances explicitly justify that lawmakers have limited the right to vote ensured for Hungarian citizens living in other countries to the national party list. Although the parties in government have been widely criticised about how they want to cement their hold on power with the votes of Hungarians living outside the country, in reality, the impact of their votes is more symbolic than decisive. In practice, of the 199 seats to be distributed in the National Assembly, these votes may only influence 93 national party list seats, or rather, only 91-92 due to the preferential national minority seat, and does not influence the 106 single-member constituency seats. However, not only votes cast for national party lists, but the fractional votes of single-member constituencies also influence the distribution of these seats. Every vote cast which was not required for winning a seat in a single-member constituency and was cast for the candidate of a party exceeding the 5% threshold on the national party list will count as a fractional vote in 2014. Due to the Hungarian three-party system, depending on the final results, some 60-75% of the total number of votes cast in single-member constituencies may count as fractional votes and added to the ballots cast for

Jakab, Andrs: A klfldn l magyar llampolgrok vlasztjoga egyenlsgnek krdse a vlasztsi trvny koncepcijban (The issue of equality in the right to vote for Hungarian citizens living in foreign countries in the concept of the electoral law). Pzmny Law Working Papers No. 2011/38. 26 Opinion No. 662/2012, CDL-AD(2012)012, Strasbourg, 18 June 2012
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national party lists.27 After calculating this, MP seats are distributed by applying the DHondt formula. Out-of-country votes may on the one hand be cast by Hungarian citizens that emigrated earlier and their descendants holding Hungarian citizenship, as well as Hungarian citizens temporarily residing in a foreign country who do not have a place of residence in Hungary, and on the other hand by citizens naturalised within the scope of the simplified naturalisation procedure. There is no accurate register recording the individuals classified in the first category and their address, which is why their registration on the electoral roll presumes an active interest, gathering of information and registration on their behalf without receiving any notification about this in a letter. This is highly unlikely in the vast majority of cases. Primarily individuals naturalised within the framework of the simplified procedure need to be taken into account for estimating the potential voting weight of out-of-country votes. 440,000 individuals applied for Hungarian citizenship within the framework of the simplified procedure between January 2011 and April 2013 and nearly 350,000 were naturalised by the end of April 2013. Preferential naturalisation is equally available for Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin and the Hungarian Diaspora. 98% of the total number of applications made to date was received from citizens living in neighbouring countries. 67% of the total number of applications made was received from Romanian citizens, 18% from Hungarians in Vojvodina and 12% from Hungarians living in the Sub-Carpathian region.28 Therefore, it is primarily necessary to focus on the larger Hungarian communities in the Carpathian Basin, with the exception of Upper Hungary where barely over 1,500 individuals applied due to the restrictive measures adopted. According to the 2011 census data, over 1,237,000 Hungarians live in Romania, 458,000 Hungarians live in Slovakia and over 253,000 Hungarians live in Serbia. The census will only be taken in Ukraine in 2013, which is why we rely on the data of the 2001 census to estimate the population of the fourth largest Hungarian community in the Carpathian Basin, which was 156,000 at the time. As regards neighbouring countries, approximately 25,000 ethnic Hungarians with Austrian citizenship live in Austria, 15,000 ethnic Hungarians live in Croatia and 6,000 in Slovenia. In April 2013, the ratio of applications for naturalisation in relation to the Hungarian population was 30% in the case of Hungarians
It is necessary to note that the proportion of fractional votes is even higher in the event of the fragmentation of the party system or a similar landslide victory to that of 2010. 28 http://allampolgarsag.gov.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article &id=251:hirek1304042&catid=1:friss-hirek&Itemid=50
27

Nearly 350,000 individuals were naturalised up to April 2013.

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living in Vojvodina and the Sub-Carpathian region and 23% in the case of Hungarians in Romania. We may assume that the number of applications for citizenship made per month will not significantly change over the next year. The whole procedure, from applying to the ceremony, takes 5-7 months in most cases. According to our estimates, a further 200,000 individuals may be naturalised within the framework of the preferential procedure up to April 2014 taking account of the assumed proportion of the voting-age population. Consequently, approximately 440,000 individuals naturalised within the framework of the preferential procedure will have the opportunity to register on electoral rolls.

Registration will presumably have a considerable negative impact on turnout among Hungarians living in other countries.

Registration will presumably decrease turnout among Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. Voters that do not have a place of residence in Hungary will have to request their registration on the electoral roll, which they can do 15 days prior to every election. This constitutes a precondition for exercising voting rights in Hungary. The individuals concerned may register on the electoral roll via mail or the Internet. It is necessary to note that in the case of Hungarians living in other countries the Constitutional Court ruled registration to be constitutional, since Hungarian authorities do not have a certified register recording the addresses of these voters, without which ensuring voting rights is unimaginable.29 The ratio of Hungarian citizens living in other countries motivated to register prior to elections because of interest in Hungarian politics, citizenship awareness or political attitudes or values is presumably relatively low. In any case, it is difficult to accurately estimate how many will apply for registration on the electoral roll and take part in the elections. In Croatia, of the 400,000 out-of-country Croatians registered on the electoral roll the ratio of participants varied between 5% and 22% in the past last three general elections held.30 In relation to this, active registration may have a negative impact, while voting by mail and the higher ratio of Hungarian national minority communities in the neighbouring countries in relation to the Diaspora may have a positive impact.31

Constitutional Court Decision1/2013 (I. 7.) http://www.izbori.hr/2003Sabor/index.htm, http://www.izbori.hr/2007Sabor/rezultati/i_02_011_0000.html, http://www.izbori.hr/2011Sabor/rezultati/rezultati.html 31 The legal regulation relating to registration was amended in December 2012 in Croatia and active registration was introduced for Croatian living in foreign countries, implying that they have to register before every election.
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Ballots cast by Hungarians living in other countries will barely affect the distribution of seats.

Assuming that 40% of individuals that acquired citizenship through the preferential naturalisation procedure turn up to vote and that the majority of these 176,000 votes were cast for a single party, with a similar turnout of 65% in Hungary to that of 2010, it is plausible to state that out-of-country Hungarian votes influence the distribution of 1 or 2 seats. This is equally reinforced by the model estimations made by Szzadvg on the grounds of the results of the general elections held in 2006 and 2010. We grouped the electoral districts of these two general elections according to the electoral districts of the new electoral system and examined what the election outcome would have been if votes were transposed to seats according to the current system, as well as what influence out-of-country votes would have had on the outcome of the election. When making this model estimation, we took the assumption presented in the table below as a point of departure for the distribution of out-of-country votes, which is based on the results of available surveys.32

Estimated Ratio of Out-of-Country Votes


2006 Fidesz-KDNP MSZP-SZDSZ MDF egyb
Source: Szzadvg

2010 80% 10% 2% 8% Fidesz-KDNP MSZP Jobbik LMP 80% 10% 8% 2%

200,000 ballots cast by Hungarians living in neighbouring countries would have not influenced the outcome of the 2010 election whatsoever.

When making the model estimation, we also assumed that MSZP and SZDSZ form a single national list and delegate joint candidates in 2006. Results clearly demonstrate that the votes of Hungarians living in neighbouring countries would have by no means influenced the outcome of the general elections held in 2006 and 2010. According to our estimates, one seat would have been won by the right-wing coalition with the 200,000 out-of-country votes, which would have not influenced the result in 2010 whatsoever.

For example: Juhsz A. Lszl R. 2012. A klhoni magyar llampolgrok vlasztjoga (The Right to Vote for Hungarians Living in Other Countries). In: Political Capital: Flton a vlasztsi reform (Halfway to electoral reform), p. 20
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Model estimation: Impact of out-of-country votes on the distribution of seats

Number of valid out-of-country votes

2006 FideszKDNP 80 80 81 81 82 82 MSZPSZDSZ 114 114 113 113 112 112 MDF 5 5 5 5 5 5 FideszKDNP 152 152 152 153 153 154 MSZP

2010 JobbikL 18 18 18 18 18 17 MP 6 6 6 6 6 6

0 100 000 200 000 300 000 400 000 500 000

23 23 23 22 22 22

Source: Szzadvg

40% turnout, i.e. 176,000 votes seems a very optimistic estimate.

It is necessary to note that a 40% turnout (176,000 votes) is also quite an optimistic estimate. For example, generally fewer voters turn out in the Romanian and Serbian general elections in relation to Hungary. In other countries like Ukraine and Slovakia, laws banning dual citizenship in accordance with which individuals that applied for Hungarian citizenship in Slovakia may even lose their Slovak citizenship may also inhibit the turnout of voters. This demonstrates that contrary to fears according to which out-of-country votes may determine the outcome of the election, in reality, voters naturalised within the framework of the preferential procedure will most probably only decisively influence the distribution of a single seat. Due to a lack of research conducted on Diaspora turnout within the European Union and abroad it is difficult to provide estimates; however, due to difficulties involved in receiving notification about registration and the weaker ties of these individuals to Hungary, their turnout is expected to be very low. The weight of their combined number of votes will surely be considerably lower than that of Hungarian voters in the Carpathian Basin.

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Parliamentary Representation of National Minorities Living in Hungary Progress in the Protection of Minority Rights
Ensuring representation for national minorities living in Hungary in the National Assembly has never been achieved under any government over the more than two decades since transition to democracy. Concepts promoting the parliamentary representation of minorities nevertheless did exist (such as, the proposal made by Juhsz in October 1989; the independent motion of MP Mezey of January 1990; Tabajdi and Jakabs proposal; several proposals put forth by the Ministry of Interior in 1992; the Vrfalvi model; positions issued by minority commissioners). However, eventually none of these became a law.33

Based on the new set of rules, rights ensured for minorities are exemplary even in international comparison.

The Constitutional Court declared that lawmakers induced an unconstitutional situation by default by failing to ensure parliamentary representation for minorities.34 Although the Constitutional Court did acknowledge that parliamentary representation does not constitute a precondition for enforcing minority rights, at the same time it is without doubt that ensuring parliamentary representation is the most effective means of legal protection in the minority rights system.35 The National Assembly passed the national and ethnic minorities act in 1993, as a result of which national and ethnic minorities were entitled to set up independent self-governments. Clarifying the situation of national and ethnic minorities was an exceptionally important issue during the course of the transformation of Hungarian public law, which, aside from ensuring the existing level of legal protection for minorities, implied moving beyond this framework and further developing the system. Based on the new set of regulations adopted in connection with national and ethnic minorities, rights ensured for minorities are exemplary even in international comparison and were also acknowledged by the Venice Commission.36
Pap A. L. 2007. Identits s reprezentci. Az etnikai hovatartozs meghatrozstl a politikai kpviseletig (Identity and Representation. From Determining Ethnic Belonging to Political Representation). Budapest, MTA Gondolat, pp. 215266 34 Constitutional Court Decision 35/1992 (VI.10.) 35 A debate in which quite a diverse range of opinions surfaced was launched several times in regard to whether the National Assembly complied with commitments relating to remedying the state of constitutional default when the system of self-government for national and ethnic minorities was devised. Without going into the legal positions posited in detail, what is certain is that there is no reference to the decision issued by the Constitutional Court in regard to ensuring representation for national and ethnic minorities on its official website. http://www.mkab.hu/kozerdeku-adatok/mulasztasok 36 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD%282012%29011-e
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Representation is ensured for minorities in several countries by co-opting preferential quotas reserved for minorities and delegation.

In light of international documents, ensuring equal opportunity for minorities can be realised through positive discrimination.37 In this regard, this is ensured by co-opting preferential quotas reserved for minorities and delegation in several countries.38 For example, in Romania 5% of votes required to elect an MP is sufficient for gaining a preferential seat. In Croatia, gaining a minority seat in parliament is also subject to obtaining a minimum number of votes, as an outcome of which Albanians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Slovenians, as well as Czechs and Slovaks may be jointly represented in parliament, in addition to ensuring independent representation for Serbs, Italians and Hungarians. Representation of the Italian and Hungarian community in Slovenia is ensured through auto-representation.39 The Italian and Hungarian minority with Slovenian citizenship may vote for parties, as well as minority representatives, which somewhat differs to the Hungarian procedure. At the level of the Fundamental Law, the National Avowal section proclaims that the nationalities living with us form part of the Hungarian political community and are constituent parts of the State [] we commit to promoting and safeguarding [] the languages and cultures of nationalities living in Hungary. Article XXIX of the chapter Freedom and Responsibility recognises nationalities living in Hungary constituting an integral part of the state. Consequently, rights of national minorities have been incorporated in the catalogue of fundamental rights, concurrently to which the Fundamental Law continues to maintain a unique minority status that moves beyond fundamental human and civil rights.40 Substantive legal regulations pertaining to the parliamentary representation of national minorities is specified in the act on the election of MPs. This legislation makes both active and passive voting rights subject to registration on the electoral roll. Therefore, only individuals that request registration on the electoral roll are eligible to vote in local, regional and national local government and general elections. Pursuant to this law, registration as a minority voter includes making a declaration about ethnic belonging, as well as a declaration by the individual applying for registration on the elecSee: U.N. Convention on the Protection of National Minorities; The Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities; U.N Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to a National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; OECD Copenhagen Document; Lung Declaration of 1999, etc. 38 Pap A. L. 2007. Identits s reprezentci (Identity and Representation). Budapest, 2007, MTAKI-Gondolat, pp. 186192 39 Article 64 of the Slovenian constitution stipulates special rights for indigenous Italian and Hungarian national minorities. 40 Gerencsr B. Sz. 2012. Gondolatok az j nemzetisgi trvnyrl (On the New National Minority Law). Pzmny Law Working Papers. Issue 2012/34. http://plwp.jak.ppke.hu/en/muhelytanulmanyok/2012/79-2012-34.html
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The recommendation of at least 1% of national minority voters, or a maximum 1,500 recommendations is required to form a list.

toral roll that the given individual also wishes to vote in the general election, in addition to ensuring the option of being removed from the electoral roll. A national minority list can be formed during general elections, the precondition for which is receiving recommendations from at least 1% of the voters registered on the national minority list, however, no more than 1,500. Any national minority voter registered on the national minority list may stand for election and any voter on the electoral roll that has the right to vote for MPs is entitled to recommend a national minority list. Ensuring preferential seats for the top candidate of the given national minority list is the positive dimension of the new national minority law. The number of votes required for gaining a preferential national minority seat, i.e., the preferential quota, is calculated in the following manner: after aggregating the total number of votes cast for national party lists and national minority lists, the result received is divided by 93, which is then divided again by 4. The quotient derived is rounded to receive the preferential quota. If a given national minority list receives an identical number of votes or more than the preferential quota, a preferential seat is gained off the given list. Only one preferential seat may be gained off one national minority list. The number of seats that can be won off the national party list must be decreased after every additional preferential seat, i.e., a total of 199 MPs may be elected to parliament together with every preferential seat.

The law ensures the opportunity for one candidate at the top of the national minority list to win a preferential minority seat.

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Table 3: Changes in the number of individuals belonging to a national minority


Census data by national minority*

1980
Bulgarian Gypsy Greek Croation Polish German Armenian Romanian Ruthene Serbian Slovak Slovenian Ukrainian Total

1990 n. a. 142 683 n. a. 13 570 n. a. 30 824 n. a. 10 740 n. a. 2 905 10 459 1 930 n. a. 226 728

2001 1 358 189 984 2 509 15 597 2 962 62 105 620 7 995 1 098 3 816 17 693 3 025 5 070 313 832

2011 3 556 308 957 3 916 23 561 5 730 131 951 3 293 26 345 3 323 7 210 29 647 2 385 5 633 555 507

National minority estimate**

n. a. 6 404 n. a. 13 895 n. a. 11 310 n. a. 8 874 n. a. 2 805 9 101 1 731 n. a. 54 120

3 500 - 10 000 400 000 - 600 000 4 000 - 4 500 80 000 - 90 000 3 000 - 3 500 200 000 - 220 000 6 000 25 000 2 000 5 000 - 10 000 100 000 - 110 000 5 000 10 000 835 000 - 1 083 995

Source: * Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH, 2011; ** Report J/1397 on the situation of national and ethnic minorities living in the territory of the Republic of Hungary. 1999. This data was provided by national minorities.

Any national minority list that does not gain a seat may delegate its leading candidate to the National Assembly as a minority spokesperson.

In accordance with the law, any national minority list that does not gain a seat is entitled to delegate its leading candidate to the National Assembly as a minority spokesperson. The smaller minorities (presumably, the Bulgarian, Greek, Polish, Armenian, Serb, Slovenian, Ukrainian and Ruthenian minorities cannot count on full parliamentary representation) will therefore be granted the right of consultation by having the right to delegate a spokesperson. Non-voting spokespersons and representatives with full voting rights at plenary sessions will be entitled to set up committees representing national minorities. This committee may function as a parliamentary body with the right to put forth initiatives, proposals and opinions and conduct control, in addition to presenting their position on reports compiled by the government about the status of national minorities and reports presented by the commissioner for fundamental rights. Owing to demographic characteristics, full voting representation and representation through a spokesperson will ensure a different status for specific communities; however, the spokesperson status is seen as a major step forward in relation to the current situation. 31

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

Szzadvg Foundation prepared a preliminary estimate in connection with the preferential quota. According to this estimate, taking the average of the number of votes cast in the past two general elections (which was a total of 5.3 million) and assuming that fractional votes represent 65% of the total number of votes cast for candidates in single-member constituencies and that Hungarian citizens living in other countries cast 160,000 votes, in accordance with the formula set forth in the law the preferential quota represents approximately 24,000 votes. If we compare this to the census data, more specifically, the demographic breakdown of the national minority population, this means that there is mathematical probability for the Gypsy, Romanian, Slovak and German communities to gain seats.41 However, other factors may also influence attaining the preferential quota, such as, voter turnout; the degree of activeness of the national minorities, more specifically the inclination of non-Hungarian citizens to vote; number of individuals belonging to a national minority applying for registration on the electoral roll or the campaign strategies of minority self-governments and parties.

The majority of society backs the parliamentary representation of national minorities.

Szzadvg Foundation conducted a telephone public research poll between 14 and 17 April 2013 to survey the backing of parliamentary representation of national minorities.42 Based on this survey, 58.1% of respondents agree with the parliamentary representation of national minorities. In other words, one year before the election it is plausible to state that there is significant backing of this. Party preference did not play a major role in the case of respondents since, with the exception of the voters of the radical right-wing party in parliament, a similarly large proportion of voters sympathising with the other parties (60-70%) backed minority representation. This fact, i.e., high level of support regardless of party preference further legitimises the parliamentary representation of minorities. Do you agree with the representation of minorities living in Hungary in the national assembly? (%)
58.1 Yes 35.1 No 6.8 Dont know/no response

Source: Szzadvg
http://www.ksh.hu/nepszamlalas/tablak_teruleti_00, 2.1.6. Table 1: Population by ethnicity, age group, highest level of education and gender 42 Interviews were conducted with 1,027 randomly selected individuals in this research by applying the CATI method. Owing to the sampling procedure, there is a maximum +/- 3.2% deviation in data published in the analysis in relation to the data that would have been generated by polling the entire adult population.
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The Right to Vote as a Fundamental Right Closing the Gap in International Expectations
The right to vote is above-all a fundamental right.
The electoral system is far more than a factor determining the party structure. Elections form the fundamental components, conditions underpinning the functioning of democratic rule of law, and the right to vote is above-all a fundamental right. Therefore, elections have a twofold character. On the one hand the election represents the means for exercising democratic power based on the principle of establishing and renewing representational bodies, the sovereignty of the people and the popular vote. The outcome of the election determines which political parties will have their hands on the legislative and executive power, and also serves to ensure the legitimacy of these. However, on the other hand, participating in elections and the right to vote is a fundamental right of all citizens, which offers an opportunity for voters to decide who to delegate to representational bodies active voting rights and for voting citizens to assume positions in these representational bodies.43 In Hungary, it is plausible to state that constitutional-level regulations in regard to elections are structured in a similar way in the Fundamental Law to the previous constitution. The right to vote is a fundamental political right which cannot be considered an absolute right, i.e., exercising this right can be made subject to conditions. At present, the combination of two preliminary requirements needs to be met for an individual to have the right to vote. Belonging to the given political community is one of these, i.e., holding Hungarian citizenship,44 whilst the other is being of legal voting age and the ability to cast the ballot. In addition, the way in which a given citizen has not been disenfranchised within the scope of the relevant procedure is a negative precondition for voting. The latter provides legitimate grounds for exclusion from voting. Aside the fact that the Fundamental Law continues to stipulate that there will be general, direct, free, equal and secret elections, the way in which voters need to be ensured the opportunity to freely express their will has also been declared. The definition for free elections has been incorporated in the Fundamental Law as a word-for-word translation of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (hereinafter ICCPR). The European Convention on Human Rights and, based on the former, the practice followed by the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter ECHR) have also been incorporated in the law.
Dezs M. 1995. A politikai jogok s a vlasztjog az Alkotmnyban (Political Rights and Right to Vote in the Constitution). Acta Humana 1995/18-19, p. 172 44 Pursuant to the entry into force of the Fundamental Law, permanent residency is no longer a requirement in respect of ensuring the right to vote (Article XXIII of the Fundamental Law)
43

Two preliminary requirements need to be met for a given individual to have the right to vote, namely: Hungarian citizenship and reaching the legal voting age.

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However, the Constitutional Court has not yet managed to issue any guidelines in respect of how free elections should be understood. There are fundamentally two ways to approach this issue. According to one of the definitions, the principle of free elections is, in practice, none other than the synthesis of the other four fundamental voting right principles, i.e., free elections are established by enforcing these. According to the other more sophisticated definition, the new principle introduced has a separate meaning and it will be the task of the Constitutional Court to define it.45

Before the Fundamental Law was adopted, besides Hungarian citizenship, residency in Hungary constituted a further requirement.

Holding Hungarian citizenship is one of the requirements for voting. As mentioned above, the right to vote is just as much a fundamental right as it directly relates to the structure and functioning of the state. Defining who enjoys this right essentially states who belongs to the given political community. Prior to the adoption of the Fundamental Law, besides Hungarian citizenship, residence in Hungary constituted a further requirement, which, however, was not incorporated in the Fundamental Law, hence opening the opportunity for Hungarian citizens living outside the country to enjoy the right to vote. With this solution, the model essentially shifted in the Hungarian electoral system re-positioning the country in the mainstream, instead of being an exception, since in most countries the political community is defined as the community of citizens irrespective of where they happen to live.46 The opinion issued by the Venice Commission equally defines belonging to a given state as the legitimate means for eligibility to vote and also explicitly declares that citizens living in foreign countries should also be given the right to vote.47 In their joint opinion issued in respect of the electoral law, the Venice Commission and OSCE posit that granting voting rights to Hungarian citizens that do not have a place of residence in Hungary corresponds to the opinion of the Venice Commission, which body explicitly welcomed this change; however, drew attention to how it is necessary to place special emphasis on elaborating rules of procedures required for ensuring voting rights.48 Reaching the legal voting age is also a positive personal requirement for the right to vote. Similarly to the constitution in place earlier, the Fundamental Law also follows the regulatory principle according to which voting eligibility is subject to reaching the legal voting age, instead of defining a set age at a fundamental law level.
Bodnr E. 2011. Vlasztjog s vlasztsi rendszer az Alaptrvnyben (Voting Rights and the Electoral System in the Fundamental Law), Magyar Kzigazgats (Hungarian Public Administration), Issue No. 3., pp. 99-112 46 Ibid. 47 CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters 48 CDL-AD(2012)012 Joint Opinion on the Act on the Elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary
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Consequently, determining who qualifies as being of legal voting age is left to the discretion of law, which is currently over the age of 18. The way in which the age threshold is one of the means applied for determining the scope of eligible voters is naturally not something that is unique to Hungary, but is common practice in numerous countries and fully complies with European standards. According to the Venice Commission,49 using age as a restriction is entirely acceptable during the course of the elaboration of election rules. In accordance with the recommendation, both active and passive voting rights can be made subject to reaching a certain age, which age should not be over 25.50

The new regulations more closely comply with expectations ensuing from international law.

Negative requirements relating to the right to vote (natural reasons for exclusion) are stipulated in the first sentence of Article XXIII(6) of the Fundamental Law whereby A person disenfranchised by a court for committing an offence or due to his or her limited mental capacity shall have no suffrage. In compliance with the opinion put forth by the Venice Commission and the legal development practice of the European Court of Human Rights, regulations incorporated in the Fundamental Law in respect of the detailed set of rules for exclusion engendered a major shift in relation to regulations set out in the constitution. According to the Venice Commission, exclusion from voting must be based on reasons defined by law, whilst proportionality also needs to be taken into account in the case of exclusion. A given person can be disenfranchised for committing a serious offence or due to limited mental capacity, and in both cases only if the court issues its final decision.51 The European Court of Human Rights has also looked into certain matters of exclusion from voting and, among others, concluded that the automatic disenfranchisement of convicted felons fails to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and violates the principle of proportionality. This is because this should only apply to felons serving long prison sentences if there is direct link between applying exclusion from voting as a sanction and the nature of the crime committed and that the sanction should not automatically be applied on the grounds of relevant legislation, but should be ruled by an independent, unbiased court. The Court assessed this matter in detail in two cases, namely, the Hirst vs. the United Kingdom and the Frodl vs. Austria case. In the former case, the Court ruled that the member state is entitled to the right to a wide scope of discretion in determining the type of crimes in which case disenfranchisement arises; however, automatic exclusion fails to comply with the postulate that disenfranchisement should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters Ibid 51 CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters
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This was the principle that was violated in the Frodl vs. Austria case, and despite how the types of crimes engendering automatic disenfranchisement were determined in a much more limited scope, in this case automatic disenfranchisement gave rise to ruling that the convention was breached.52 In Hungary, based on the regulations in effect prior to 1 January 2012, any person serving a prison term or forced to undergo compulsory mental health treatment was automatically disenfranchised. Therefore, the change brought about by the Fundamental Law coerced compliance ensuing from the postulates of international law at a Fundamental Law level. The other case for disenfranchisement is when the court explicitly disenfranchises someone that is limited in their discretionary ability. Therefore, disenfranchisement according to the new regulation is neither automatic in the case when the court issues a final decision in respect of limited or deprived in capacity to act. According to the position of the European Court of Human Rights, the fact that a given individual is either partially or fully incapable of undertaking legal affairs should not mean that her or his limitation or complete lack of discretionary abilities influences her or his capacity of enjoying active or passive voting rights. Consequently, it is not possible to disenfranchise someone without assessing this on a case by case basis. The Court ruled against Hungary for this very reason in the Kiss Alajos vs. Hungary53 case. The Fundamental Law has in this regard since amended the regulation challenged by the international court. Consequently, citizens limited in their discretionary ability or that have committed crimes will not be automatically disenfranchised in the future and the court is required to issue a separate decision on this on the grounds of relevant legislation.

It is not possible to deprive anyone the right to vote without case-based judicial discretion.

From the perspective of future legal progress, it is necessary to mention that international organisations have been repeatedly articulating that persons with disabilities need to be ensured the same voting rights as other citizens, i.e., physical, mental, etc. disability justifies disenfranchisement. Consequently, a decision made by the court in a particular case ruling that the given individual is restricted in her or his capacity to act in light of her of his mental, psychological abilities can no longer be the grounds for disenfranchisement and concurrently stipulated that the given individual is also unfit to undertake political or public affairs.54
52

Ld.: ECHR Hirst v. The United Kingdom (no. 40787/98); ECHR Frodl v. Austria (no. 20201/04) ECHR Alajos Kiss v. Hungary (no. 38832/06) 54 Article 29 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also proceeds legally in this direction. Moreover, Recommendation CM/ Rec(2011)14 of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe also stipulates similar criteria. In addition the UN committee for the rights of persons with disabilities stated against Hungary that every person with a disability must have the right to vote and deems the review of the regulation desirable. http://disabilitycouncilinternational. org/Eastern-Europe-and-central-Asia.php
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Full-time MPs End of Multiple Mandates


The institution of conflict of interest is one the most important guarantees for independence.
Parliament not only needs to be protected from the unauthorised external interferences, but the self-interests of MPs and other interferences achieved through MPs. MPs act in the interest of the people in a civil democracy. Conflict of interest, i.e., the institution of incompatibility, is one of the key guarantees of this independence.55 Three different types of conflict of interest can be distinguished, namely: office-related, economic and other.56 The public institution of conflict of interest needs to simultaneously fulfil several objectives. It should concurrently ensure the financial, organisational and power-related independence of MPs, prevent the concentration of power positions and the interpenetration of economic and political positions; ensure the prevention of undesirable interferences and the transparency of the salaries of MPs. At the same time, creating full-time positions for MPs (through the acceptance of rigorous rules pertaining to conflict of interest) concurrently to establishing a suitable remuneration system is extremely important and essential for eliminating corruption and unfair influence.57 Serious debates have been persisting in regard to office-related cases of conflict of interest ever since the era of political changes. The solution proposed by lawmakers according to which conflict of interest did not arise in the case of key positions assumed in the government and the mandate of MPs was more widely accepted, which is also acceptable in international comparison. Instead, the crux of thedebate focused on the mandates of mayors and MPs. Mayors were barred from being MPs between 1990 and 1994. However, the National Assembly abolished this form of conflict of interest by amending the law. The Constitutional Court also assessed this amendment and concluded by a margin of 5 to 4 that guaranteeing conflict of interest between these two mandates does not ensue from the principle of division of powers, which, at the same, is not unconstitutional even if lawmakers stipulate conflict of interest between these two mandates.58

Working simultaneously in the National Assembly and the local government considerably burdens the concerned individuals.

Szente Zoltn: Bevezets a parlamenti jogba (Introduction to Parliamentary Law). Atlantisz Publishing, Budapest 1998, p. 207 56 Instances of the conflict of interest of MPs according to the state valid prior to the 2010 general election is presented in a structured form on the following link to the official website of the National Assembly: http://www.parlament.hu/fotitkar/kepv/kepv_osszefer.htm 57 Bihari M. 1997. A kpviselk sszefrhetetlensge s a hatalommegoszts (Conflict of Interest of MPs and Division of Power). Politikatudomnyi Szemle (Political Science Review) 1997/1, pp. 9-10 58 Constitutional Court Decision 55/19994 (XII. 10.)
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The number of MPs appointed to executive local government positions has been increasing ever since from one term of government to the next. During the 2006-2010 term of government, 11 MPs were presidents of county assemblies, 4 were vice presidents (or deputy mayors in Budapest), 65 were mayors and 19 were deputy mayors. An additional 43 MPs were members of the local government assembly and 32 were members of the county (Municipality of Budapest) assembly. Therefore, nearly every second MP took part in the work in some sort of local government body.59 This trend only further strengthened after the general election held in 2010. Research on multiple mandates and political recruitment explicitly justify that working simultaneously in the National Assembly and the local government places significant loads on the concerned individuals, which extra load they typically resolve at the expense of their parliamentary work. This implies that there is a much higher proportion of backbenchers that are less involved in national politics among these MPs.60 Changes to public law after 2010 equally affected regulations pertaining to conflict of interest. Act XXXVI of 2012 on the National Assembly set forth a new two-tier rule in respect of cases of conflict of interest. Cases of office-related conflict of interest remain unchanged until 2014, while the definitions applied for economic conflict of interest since 1997 were specified and tightened to a certain degree.

Rules pertaining to conflict of interest will become significantly stricter in the next term of government.

However, real changes are expected to be introduced after 2014. From the next term on, simultaneously to sorting out the remuneration of MPs, the MP mandate will be in conflict of interest with every other state, local government and economic mandate or contract work. Moreover, MPs will be barred from engaging in any other income-earning activity and will be banned from accepting remuneration for other activities, with the exception of scientific, educational, artistic and editing activities, as well as intellectual activities under copyright protection. As regards political mandates, in the future the MP mandate will only be compatible with the position of PM, minister, state secretary, prime ministerial and ministerial commissioner.

Soltsz I. (edit.) 2010. Az Orszggyls. (The National Assembly) Parlamenti Mdszertani Iroda (Parliamentary Methodological Office) Budapest, p. 84 60 See Vrnagy R. 2012. Polgrmester vagy kpvisel? A mandtumhalmozs jelensge a Magyar Orszggylsben. PhD-rtekezs (PhD thesis: Mayor or MP? The Phenomenon of Seat Amassing in the Hungarian National Assembly) Budapest, pp. 141-142 http://phd. lib.uni-corvinus.hu/671/1/Varnagy_Reka.pdf for the latest research in this topic and cited findings:
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Consequently, from 2014 onwards, MPs shall be entirely barred from assuming a mandate in business organisations, nor shall they be allowed to retain other income-earning so-called civil practices (such as, a medical or legal practice, etc.). Consequently, an extremely rigorous and almost exemplary system of conflict of interest will be introduced in Hungary, and beyond offering decent remuneration to MPs, the objective of this system is to shut out other income-earning channels available for MPs in the widest scope possible and in a reasonable manner. As a result of these changes, the wide range of legal or quasi legal means available for influencing the work of MPs will decrease radically, which will presumably have a beneficial impact on the quality of the work of MPs and will be suitable for increasing the role of the National Assembly as the centre of power.

Transformation of the Candidacy System Eradicating Abuse


Candidacy rules may have a serious impact on the party structure of the country. If a country makes candidacy subject to very strict requirements, this may prevent smaller parties from nominating candidates or independent candidates not backed by any party from standing for election. At the same time, to avoid fragmentation, it is necessary to specify criteria in order for a party or candidate to stand for election.

In Europe, candidacy is generally subject to financial contribution or a set number of backing signatories or collection of recommendation slips.

Different requirements may be specified for nominating candidates in single-member constituencies and on the national party list in the case of electoral systems with proportional or proportionality components. Primarily two sets of requirements are distinguished. Candidacy is most frequently made subject to financial contribution, a set number of signing supporters or the collection of recommendation slips. In its electoral code, the Venice Commission highlights that both the nomination of candidates in single-member constituencies and on the national party list cannot exclusively be made subject to a minimum number of signatures in a way that this poses a problem for very small parties with no real supporters. In regard to the minimum number of recommendations, regulations adopted by countries should not require the recommendation of over 1% of the number of voters eligible to vote. Clear rules need to be in place for signature verification, with special regard to deadlines and completing the verification of recommendations by the end of the campaign period in every case. In regard to the bond, the Venice Commission recommends that this should not 39

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be too high and must be paid back to the party if it receives a certain number of votes during the election.61

Making candidacy subject to the collection of recommendation slips was the most widely criticised component of election rules.

In Hungary, making candidacy subject to the collection of recommendation slips was one of the most contested and problematic points of the electoral rules. Although the Constitutional Court ruled that the candidate nomination system applied is constitutional in one of its first decisions62, the recommendation slips continually remained in the crossfire of criticism put forth by experts. The way in which the data protection commissioner in office deemed that data protection applied in connection with the collection of recommendation slips, as well as during the campaign is problematic in several regards in recommendations put forth is a prime example for this.63 The recommendation system was generally deemed problematic in the recommendations put forth by the data protection commissioner because it implied the mass handling of personal data, moreover, sensitive data disclosing political preferences. The commissioner deemed that handling such a volume of sensitive data is entirely unjustified and dangerous. In addition, the way in which the recommendation slip was sent to voters together with notification about registration on the electoral roll was also criticised, which letter therefore had every information required for filling in the recommendation slip. This is why the theft of notifications from letter boxes was a frequent problem, as a result of which the personal data of voters was particularly exposed to threat. Phasing out the current system of recommendation and replacing it with a new, more transparent system better protecting the personal data of voters was a key change of the new electoral law. In accordance with this law, a recommendation sheet will be used to propose candidates based on the well-functioning method of collecting signatures applied for referendums. Voters are required to write their name, personal ID number and their mothers maiden name on the recommendation sheet. It is therefore evident that candidates and candidate organisations will be handling a considerably lower volume of personal data as an outcome of the new electoral system. In addition, the theft of notifications may altogether cease in the new system. Although voters will still receive notification about registration on the district electoral roll, from among the data required for recommendation two types of data will be omitted from the notification, namely, the personal ID number and the name of the mothers maiden name of the voter, which is why the mass theft of recommendation slips will no longer be in anyones interest, hence also strengthening the security of personal data handling.
CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters Constitutional Court Decision 2/1990 (II. 18.) 63 381/H/2002; 750/H/2006
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Mass theft of letters of notification and recommendation slips that occurred during previous elections will no longer be in anyones interest.

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The president of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information found that this represented major progress.64

The new electoral law accurately defines institutions in which it is not authorised to collect recommendations.

Beyond the recommendation slips, the recommendation system also raised a series of other disputable issues. The mode and place of collection of recommendations was one of these. The loose wording of election rules prohibited the collection of recommendation slips at the workplace. Since the procedural law on elections failed to accurately define what should be considered a workplace, in the recommendation it issued the National Election Committee (OVB) interpreted the given provision in a way that every indoor or outdoor place in which employees reside to work or are there for work-related reasons shall be considered a workplace.65 This far too broad definition for workplace could have essentially created an absurd situation where the collection of recommendations slips would have been banned in public areas, since these too are workplaces for, for example, workers maintaining public areas, hence only making it possible to collect recommendations in the offices of parties and homes. Contrary to this, the new electoral law accurately defines the list of institutions in which it is not permitted to collect recommendations, such as, offices of public bodies, educational institutions, healthcare institutions or on public transport. Recommendations may be collected anywhere apart from the exceptions listed in the law. However, not only the mode of recommendation has been changed in the new election system, as an outcome of which problems persisting for decades have been eliminated, nominating candidates will also become simpler in single-member constituencies. Up until now, 750 recommendation slips had to be collected to nominate a candidate in a single-member constituency in the general elections. Collecting a mere 500 signatures will be the requirement for candidacy in the new system. Regional party lists have been phased out, but the national party lists have been retained in the new electoral system. In the previous system, a candidate organisation was able to nominate a national party list if it managed to form seven regional party lists and regional party lists were accepted if the given organisation nominated a candidate in 25% of the constituencies of the given county. According to the new system, the national party list will be valid if individual candidates have been nominated in at least 9 counties and 37 single-member constituencies in Budapest.
Communication issued by the President of the National Data Protection and Freedom of Information Authority: http://www.naih.hu/files/NAIH-koezlemeny-az-ajanloszelvenyek-gy-jtesenek-tervezett- megszuenteteserol.pdf 65 OVB position No. 1/2010 (II. 25.) on recommendation slips and the recommendation procedure In its position, OVB embarks from the notion of workplace as defined in Act XCIII of 1993 on Occupational Safety.
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It will be easier to run in single-member constituencies.

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Changing Campaign Rules A More Transparent System


As characteristic of the new rules of the election system as a whole, namely, that they were elaborated by taking account of experiences accumulated during the last election, this is especially true for new rules introduced in connection with the election campaign. During election campaigns, the defects of the previous procedural law on elections, its inaccurate formulation largely increased legal uncertainty in connection with the elections, which the legal interpretation activity of the electoral bodies was not capable of decreasing either, and instead only increased it in several cases.

The parties have 50 days to campaign.

Changes to the election campaign period are one of the most obvious changes. In accordance with the election procedure in place earlier, the election campaign began on the day the Election Day was set and finished on the day before the election. The President of the Republic was required to set the date of the election 72 days before Election Day. Accordingly, the parties had 72 days to campaign, which may have been even longer depending on when the President set the date of the election. In accordance with the new regulation, in the future the President of the Republic sets the date of the election in a way that Election Day will fall between the 70th and 90th day following its announcement. Campaign rules have also been changed and now stipulate that the parties have 50 days to campaign after the date of the Election Day is set. Customary law followed to date, namely, that the election must be held on a Sunday and that besides holidays, the election cannot be held on Easter Sunday nor on Pentecost Sunday was incorporated in one of the rules of the new electoral law. The institution of pre-election silence also connects to the campaign period, which is a major change to the rules of the election procedure in view of how this legal institution was the most problematic one and was widely criticised. In accordance with rules in place earlier, campaigning is prohibited from midnight of the day preceding Election Day through to the end of the election. In accordance with the decision issued by the Constitutional Court, pre-election silence was not anti-constitutional because this is a time restriction and not a content-related one and is not disproportionately long in relation to the length of the campaign. Moreover, it is not necessary to cap this period because it ensures the unperturbed expression of the free will of the voters.

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The institution of pre-election silence did not effectively help voters express their opinion without being influenced.

At the same time, the Constitutional Court also remarked that abolishing pre-election silence would not create an unconstitutional situation, since smooth elections can be ensured through alternative means.66 The notion of breaking pre-election silence also existed in respect of pre-election silence, which implied every kind of action suitable for influencing the will of the voters. In view of how it is difficult to define what breaching pre-election silence actually means, the National Election Committee also focused on cases in which pre-election was breached in several positions issued. In the opinion of the Committee, mentioning or reporting on any party or candidate in the media is sufficient for influencing voters will. Sending text messages encouraging voters to support a particular party or candidate without having received any special request or due authorisation was also considered breach of pre-election silence.67 If, in response to the complaint made, the competent electoral body ruled that pre-election silence was breached, the body only had limited opportunities available for applying sanctions. The given electoral committee had the right to declare that pre-election silence was breached, bar the culprit from engaging in this activity, have the concerned election act annulled or repeated or coerce the announcement of the sanction if the act of breach was committed in the media. In most cases the election committee was only able to affirm the act of breach. There was not much sense in banning the illegal act, since the actual pre-election period was short and the given act was only repeated in the case of very serious breaches.68 The outcome of the general election held in 2010 also highlighted the vicissitudes of the institution of pre-election silence. In several electoral districts many voters were unable to cast ballots before the polling stations closed on the day of the first round of the general election, in spite of having queued up at the polling stations in time. In accordance with the decision made by the National Election Committee (OVB), every voter that turned up at the polling station before it was closed must be ensured the right to cast their ballot. At the same time, in order to ensure uninfluenced voting for these voters, the Committee banned the announcement of preliminary election results until the very last voter has cast her/his ballot by referring to pre-election campaign rules.69 Since the OVB position was received rather late, exit poll results were already announced by several media corporations, which, in practice, is a breach of pre-election silence.
Constitutional Court Decision 39/2002 (IX. 25.) Position issued by the National Election Committee (OVB) No. 11/1998 (V. 18.) and No. 14/2006 (IV. 18) on the matter of pre-election silence 68 Tarczay ron: Kampnycsend a magyar jogban (Pre-election Silence in Hungarian Law) http://www.jogiforum.hu/files/publikaciok/dr_tarczai_aron-kampanycsend%5Bjogi_forum%5D.pdf 69 National Elections Committee (OVB) Opinion No. 3/2010 on closing the voting
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After recognising how impossible the situation was, OVB eventually permitted the announcement of preliminary results before the last voter cast her/his ballot. The data protection commissioner also criticised the decision made by OVB to hold back preliminary election results, according to which committee the right to access data of public interest was violated through the unnecessary breach of pre-election silence and the unjustified holding back of preliminary data.70 This case clearly demonstrates how the institution of pre-election silence did not effectively help voters to express their will without any interference, with the election procedure becoming simpler and more transparent after its abolishment.

The definiton of the framework of political campaigns is a constitutional solution in several European countries.

Banning paid political advertisements is the most contested component of the amendments. The guiding principles of the new regulation were incorporated in the Fundamental Law after the Constitutional Court abolished the original regulation incorporated in legislation.71 This amendment incorporated the stipulation in the Fundamental Law that political advertisements may only be boradcasted/published free of charge and that during the campaign period the political advertisements of parties nominating national party lists can only be boradcasted by state media coportations under equal conditions. The way in which election campaigns promoted by commerical media corportations on a paid, market basis are one of the most expensive components of election campaigns was the main reason underlying this regulation. High campaign costs on the one hand lead to smaller parties that generally have less funding being unable to appear on this particular surface. In turn, the omission of smaller parties from commercial media places the bigger parties in a better financial position at an undue advantage, as a result of which the various parties do not stand on equal footing in the election which ultimately leads to the distortion of democracy. The Constitutional Court did not accept this argument, namely, that barring political parties from advertising on commercial media surfaces serves to ensure equal chances for parties standing for election.

http://www.adatvedelmibiztos.hu/abi/index.php?menu=aktualis/allasfoglalasok/2010&dok=ABI-2257-7_2010_Hkezdsek; See Frhlich Johanna: A kampnycsend s a kzrdek adatokhoz val hozzfrs (Pre-election Silence and Access to Data of Public Interest) Magyar Jog, 2010/12. 747-751A on the relationship between the events unfolding on the day of the first round elections in 2010 and pre-election silence and insight into public data. 71 Constitutional Court Decision 1/2013 (I. 7.)
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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg later justified the argument made by the government, and according its decision issued on 22 April 2013 72 ruled that British campaign rules that are largely similar to those adopted in Hungary do not violate the right to freedom of expression of opinion ensured in the European Convention on Human Rights. Paid political advertisements in the audio-visual media are traditionally banned in the United Kingdom. However, political parties are offered free advertising surfaces for advertising purposes under equal conditions.73 According to the position of the British Government, this regulation ensures a balance between freedom of expression and the requirement of neutrality and the protection of democratic decision-making. The Court declared that the development of the Internet does not change the way the conventional electronic media is the most influential means for shaping opinions, which is why more rigorous regulations are justified in their particular case. The Court also refers to a European survey conducted in 2006, according to which there is a restriction on political advertisements in the conventional electronic media in the vast majority of European countries. According to this survey, restrictions on political advertisements do not apply in four countries (Austria, Estonia, Finland and Poland). Since there is no standard European practice in this area, according to the Strasbourg court the lawmakers of specific countries have a margin of appreciation in respect of the elaboration of regulations. In addition, it is also necessary to mention that there are examples for the constitutional solution of restricting political campaigns in several European countries. The best known example for this is France where it is only possible to run political advertisements during the election campaign on public radio and television channels, which is not authorised on commercial channels. In accordance with the provisions governing the Electoral Code, parties are offered equal and proportionate broadcasting time. Interviews given and statements issued in connection with domestic politics count as appearances constituting a part of the campaign; however, comments made in connection with the routine daily work of the government do not.

ECHR Animal Defenders International v. The United Kingdom (no 48876/08) Scammel, Margaret Langer, Ana Ines: Political advertising in the United Kingdom 65 http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/11718_Chapter4.pdf
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The same restriction does not apply to print media.74 The Spanish campaign regulation is based on a similar principle. In accordance with the Spanish electoral law, parties are banned from ordering paid election advertisements on both the state media and commercial television stations. The central election committee subdivides the free surfaces available for parties free of charge in the state media for election campaign purposes in proportion to number of votes they received in the previous election.75 It is therefore evident that the solution adopted by Hungary is by no means alien to European democracies, which not only does not deviate from foreign standards, but is practically identical to the model adopted in either France of Spain. At the same time, possible changes to the regulation cannot be ruled out as the outcome of negotiations with the EU currently in progress.

The Electoral Management Bodies System Stronger Organisational Autonomy


Delivering technical and other relevant tasks in connection with the organisation of the election is the duty of the electoral administration. The organisation of the election extends to include determining the scope of individuals eligible to vote in elections (electoral roll); assessing and certifying candidates; organising and arranging voting; counting ballots and declaring election results. Bodies that deliver some of all of these tasks are classified within the scope of the electoral administration, regardless of whether the given task is undertaken by is an independent organisation or based on the division of tasks between several organisations under the umbrella of a single institution. Beyond its fundamental task, the electoral administration may also undertake other activities at the various electoral bodies, such as: defining and reviewing constituency boundaries, training the employees and volunteers of the electoral bodies, disseminating information in connection with the elections or settling disputed issues that arose during the course of the election. Since organising the appropriate electoral administration constitutes one of the most important requirements for holding democratic elections, several international documents focus on this issue.

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Code lectoral L52-1 and L52-8 Ley orgnica 5/1985 del Regimen Electoral General art 59-64

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Holding of democratic and unbiased elections needs to be monitored by independent organisations.

Point 20 of the official comment to Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on ensuring the right to vote declares that signatory states must set up independent bodies which monitor the democratic and unbiased organisation of the election procedure.76 The other key document in this regard is the general recommendation put forth by the Venice Commission in connection with the organisation of elections, which stipulates the operation of an unbiased, permanent body responsible for arranging elections and verifying the implementation of election rules.77 Tasks relating to elections are subdivided among central and local bodies, bodies authorised to make decisions and organisations delivering administrative tasks within the election administration institution. It is possible to make distinctions between the various electoral bodies also on the basis of whether they are standing bodies or ad hoc ones set up temporally for the given election. Both types function in most countries. The most typical solution is when there is a standing central body alongside regional and local bodies set up for the election. Three fundamental models can be distinguished in respect of the organisation of electoral administrations. In the autonomous institution model, an autonomous organisation entirely independent to the executive power is responsible for organising elections.78 In the governmental model, the executive power is responsible for organising elections. Adesignated minister is responsible for organising tasks pertaining to the election and elections are organised and arranged through the apparatus of the given ministry, in which local authorities also collaborate.79 There are two separate organisations responsible for elections in the mixed model. On the one hand, there is a body independent to the government responsible for making decisions in connection with the organisation of the election designated with the task of, for example, settling interpretation-related issues arising and monitoring and verifying the implementation of electoral laws. On the other hand, there are executory bodies constituting a part of the executive power responsible for the organisation and holding of elections.80

General Comment No. 25: The right to participate in public affairs, voting rights and the right of equal access to public service (Art. 25): 12/07/96., point 20. 77 CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters 78 E.g.: India, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Costa Rica, Australia, Mexico, Romania; Handbook on Electoral Management Design. International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Stockholm, 2006, p. 7 http://www.idea.int/publications/emd/upload/EMD_inlay_final.pdf 79 E.g.: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore, United States of America, Austria, See Ibid p. 8. 80 E.g.: Spain, France, Japan, Senegal and Poland. See Ibid p. 9
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Election committees are independent bodies exclusively subject to law.

Two types of electoral bodies are distinguished in Hungary, namely, electoral committees and electoral offices. Electoral committees are independent and exclusively subject to law and are, among others, designated with the task of ensuring clean and fair elections and declaring election results. Up until now, ballot-counting committees, local election committees which also undertake the tasks of the ballot-counting committee in settlements with a single electoral district single-member constituency electoral committees, regional electoral committees and the National Election Committee (Orszgos Vlasztsi Bizottsg, OVB) functioned as electoral committees. Committees were comprised of three elected members designated by the local government assembly pursuant to the recommendation of the competent electoral office in the case of single-member constituency and county committees, or by the municipal assembly and county assembly in the case of the ballot-counting and local electoral committee. The mode of election of OVB deviated from this practice, since members were elected by the National Assembly by simple majority pursuant to the recommendation put forth by the Minister of Interior. OVB declared the outcome of general elections and provided guidelines in connection with the standard application of electoral laws. In addition to elected members, organisations nominating candidates or national party lists in the given constituency were also eligible to delegate additional members. Rigorous conflict of interest rules were applicable to the members designated to electoral committees in order to maintain the independence of the committee. The new procedural law on elections essentially did not make any changes to the structure of electoral committees. The various levels of the committees were retained and the mode of election and designation of members by and large also remained the same. Changing the name of the National Election Committee and increasing the autonomy of the committee was the most relevant change in the new procedural law. OVB will continue to function under the name of National Election Committee (Nemzeti Vlasztsi Bizottsg, NVB) and instead of five members; the new committee is comprised of seven members, three alternate members, as well as party delegates. In the future, instead of the Minister of Interior, the President of the Republic assuming a neutral power status in the context of Hungarian public law will nominate the elected committee members on behalf of the government, with twothirds of the votes of MPs present during voting required to elect these candidates to office. The elected members of NVB are given a 9-year mandate. The scope of tasks of NVB is essentially the same.

The structure of election committees has not changed substantially.

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As such, the elected members of NVB are given a similar status to the presidents and members of independent institutions in the Hungarian legal system, such as, the president of the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court, which explicitly contributes to effectively ensuring the independent operation of this body.

The National Election Office will function as an independent body of state administration.

The elected members of NVB are given a 9-year mandate. The scope of tasks of NVB is essentially the same. As such, the elected members of NVB are given a similar status to the presidents and members of independent institutions in the Hungarian legal system, such as, the president of the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court, which explicitly contributes to effectively ensuring the independent operation of this body. The electoral offices system, which offices function as bodies of the electoral administration, did not essentially change either with the adoption of the new procedural law on elections. Preparing, organising and arranging elections and ensuring information in connection with the elections, as well as the technical requirements of elections was and still is the main task of electoral offices under the scope of the new law. An electoral office operates alongside every electoral committee, with the exception of the ballot-counting committee and foreign representations. Typically public notaries are appointed as electoral office managers, while her/his staff is appointed from among the employees of the local government office throughout the duration of the elections. Changes were essentially made at a national level also in the case of the electoral administration, which also points toward increasing the independence of electoral bodies. The National Election Office (Orszgos Vlasztsi Iroda, OVI) was responsible for the central administration of elections, which used to function as a department of the Ministry of Interior, but is now integrated into one of the state secretariats of the Ministry of Justice. In accordance with the new procedural law on elections, instead of the National Election Office (OVB), the National Election Office (Nemzeti Vlasztsi Iroda, NVI) will be responsible for the central organisation of elections. From now on, this Office will not be a department within a ministry, but shall function as an autonomous body of public administration exclusively subject to law and without being instructed in respect of its scope of tasks. The president of this Office will be appointed similarly to other independent bodies of public administration. The President of the Republic shall appoint the chief executive of the Office for a period of nine years based on the candidate nominated by the Prime Minister in respect of whom rigorous conflict of interest rules shall apply. Its budgetary independence also reinforces the independence of the Office. 49

The new election procedure increases the autonomy of bodies responsible for the elections.

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

It is therefore clearly evident that changes to electoral bodies that entered into force with the adoption of the new electoral law were explicitly aimed at increasing the autonomy of competent bodies responsible for organising elections and making decisions in connection with elections. By making these changes, Hungary has explicitly shifted towards the autonomous institution model from the mixed system as regards the system mentioned above classifying countries in three groups on the grounds of the electoral bodies of the respective country. Increasing the autonomy of electoral bodies in this particular manner not only meets international expectations, but further increases the cleanliness of elections in relation to earlier practice.

The Electoral Legal Redress Procedure High Level Protection Remains in Place
Ensuring the right to legal redress in respect of certain court and official decisions constitutes an integral part of the rule of law. The objective of legal redress is to rectify and eliminate wrong or erroneous substantive or procedural decisions made and make amends for the damages caused to the given party, concurrently to ensuring the protection of compulsory law. Legal redress also plays a pivotal role during the course of elections. Ensuring appropriate means for legal redress during the election procedure constitutes a fundamental precondition for holding democratic elections. The Venice Commission also drew attention to the function of legal redress. In order for election rules to not simply remain words on paper, the Commission pointed out the need to ensure a suitable legal redress system for cases when a given party breaches these. This is especially true for the key points of the election procedure, such as, enrolment on the electoral roll, nominating candidates or even declaring election results. The opportunity for legal redress must always be ensured in the case of these decisions. In regard to the electoral legal redress system, the Venice Commission generally proposes ensuring this in relevant courts or within the electoral committee system. Although the latter bodies are specifically set up during elections, this makes them more experienced in the matter; however, the opportunity for review by court is nevertheless recommended in every case.

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The appeal procedure should be simple and free from all formality, especially in regard to allowing for appeal. Regulations pertaining to the legal redress process and the scope of competency of bodies authorised to assess the given case must be accurately defined. Both the deadline for submission and issuing decisions needs to be short in the case of the appeal process in order to prevent any delay in the declaration of election results. At the same time, deadlines need to be set in a way that, despite their shortness, they should be long enough to assess the grounds of complaints lodged. The scope of competency of bodies authorised to assess legal redress claims made needs to be defined in a way that effectively makes these bodies eligible to assess matters in dispute and, if required, the instruments ensured for these bodies to be suitable for restoring damages caused.81 If suitable legal redress is not ensured in respect of decisions made by election bodies, this equally violates the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the right to free elections set out in Article 3 of Protocol 1 was breached because appropriate legal redress was not ensured in the election procedure. In the case in question, although the Azeri authorities did formally conduct the legal redress procedure requested in accordance with Azeri law, as regards content, they did not exhaust every means available for exposing the actual circumstances and supplementing the proof submitted by the plaintiff. Accordingly, the complaint lodged by the plaintiff was arbitrarily dismissed, i.e., the opportunity for legal redress only existed in a formal sense.82

A new form of legal redress has been made available to plaintiffs by introducing the opportunity to lodge complaints to the Constitutional Court.

The legal redress system of the Hungarian election procedure entirely complied with international criteria even earlier and the new election procedure legal redress system did not make any substantive changes to the structure of legal redress instruments that may be applied. With the adoption of the new procedural law on elections, certain details were defined in respect of election legal redress rules. Moreover, as an outcome of the transformation of the system of Hungarian public law, a new opportunity for legal redress has been made available to plaintiffs by introducing the opportunity to lodge constitutional complaints. Earlier on, the electoral procedure applied three legal redress instruments which the new regulation also adopted, namely: lodging complaints, appealing to and review by court. The concerned parties, nominating organisations, candidates, as well as every citizen enrolled on the electoral roll may lodge complaints in connection with the breach of the election procedure. The complaint is assessed by the competent
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CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters ECHR Namat Aliyev v. Azerbaijan (no. 18705/06.)

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electoral committee. The way in which the electoral committee assessing the complaint lodged has the right to issue penalties in the event of the breach of rules pertaining to the election campaign is a new component of the law. Penalties are a means for making both nominating organisations, as well as candidates more inclined to comply with election campaign rules. If the competent electoral committee deems that the rules have been breached, the committee shall ban the culprit from committing further breaches, annuls the election procedure or the part to which legal redress applies. Appeals may be lodged against decisions made by electoral committees. The above-listed individuals are eligible to lodge complaints. Complaints lodged are assessed by the electoral committee one level higher. The appeal procedure is a first instance procedure, i.e., the decision issued in respect of the appeal cannot be appealed; only review by court may be requested. It is neither possible to appeal any of the decisions issued by the National Election Committee (NVB); review by court may also be requested in the case of these decisions. The Supreme Court (Curia) is authorised to assess court reviews initiated against the decisions issued by NVB in every case, while the competent court of appeal assesses court reviews initiated against second instance electoral committee decisions. Similarly to earlier practice, appeals may be lodged and court review may be requested by referring to similar breaches of law or in respect of the decisions issued by electoral committees within their respective discretionary jurisdiction. Bodies undertaking the review either affirm or change the decisions appealed. The same rules and deadlines in place earlier are applicable to all three instruments of legal redress. Therefore, there are three days to lodge complaints and the assessing bodies also have three days to issue decisions in respect of appeals. Experiences gathered so far prove that three days is a sufficiently short time to prevent any delay in the election, and at the same time is sufficient for the competent electoral bodies and courts to issue sound decisions. The opportunity to submit requests for legal redress via email in all three cases is a new feature of the procedure. Applying Internet solutions may contribute to initiating legal redress in a much simpler and efficient manner than before. It is necessary to mention that the new Fundamental Law of Hungary created the opportunity of lodging real constitutional complaints. Any individual or organisation whose right ensured in the Fundamental Law was violated by a court decision issued in a given case and has exhausted every opportunity available for legal redress is entitled to lodge a constitutional complaint, which even applies if no such opportunities exist. 52

Petitions for legal redress may be submitted in the form of two electronic letters.

SZZADVG FOUNDATION The New Hungarian Electoral System

This new opportunity to lodge constitutional complaints may also be applied against court decisions issued in respect of the election procedure violating fundamental rights. In the case of constitutional complaints lodged against the election procedure the only difference in relation to the standard procedure is that the Constitutional Court has a short three-day deadline characteristic of the election procedure to decide on processing the complaint and assessing the complaint accepted.

The changes made strengthen legal security.

To summarise, it is plausible to state that the new procedural law on elections does not substantively change the election legal redress system. Changes that were made fundamental relate to defining the details of rules, which strengthens legal security, hence promoting the legitimacy of the elections. The other dimension of changes pertaining to the election procedure makes it easier to exercise legal redress (e.g. submitting requests via email), in addition to increasing the scope of legal redress opportunities for the parties concerned (e.g. constitutional complaints).

Voting by Persons with Disabilities Enhanced Equal Opportunity


Persons with disabilities encounter several difficulties when voting, namely: hearing-impaired persons are unable to gather any verbal information about election topics; visually-impaired and blind persons are only able to cast votes if aided, while physically disabled persons have difficulty in accessing the polling stations. The Disability Action Plan of the Council of Europe (2006-2015), as well as the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities lay down the fundamental requirements of voting for persons with disabilities.83 In regard to the rights of persons with disabilities, these international documents lay down respect for individual autonomy, the freedom to make their own choice, as well as full and effective participation and acceptance in society.84 According to the findings of the assessment carried out by the commissioner for fundamental rights in this particular area, voting rights do not begin by casting a vote, nor by being able to enter the polling station, but by getting information before elections to persons with disabilities based on the principle of access to communication.
Proclaimed together with Act XCII of 2007 The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly convened on 13 December 2006, which Hungary was the second country to ratify on 2 July 2007.
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The definition for communication specified in Article 2 of the UN convention needs to be taken account of when disseminating information and editing the ballot paper, i.e., Communication includes languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology; Language includes spoken and signed languages and other forms of non spoken languages.85

Gaining information makes it possible to exercise the right to vote.

However, following the ratification of the UN convention, our hypothetical commitment was not followed up by practical implementation for several years. This is why civil society organisations representing persons with disabilities also lodged a complaint to the ombudsman about obstacles that prevent them from exercising their rights. As a result of the review conducted 86 the ombudsman concluded that persons with disabilities are not suitably ensured voting rights and they are unable to properly access polling stations. This is a limitation of universal, equal, secret and direct voting rights and can also be interpreted as a restriction for participating in political and public life.87 The new Fundamental Law makes major progress in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Article XV(2) guarantees that Hungary ensures fundamental rights for persons with disabilities without discrimination and Article XV(5) declares that persons with disabilities are protected in Hungary through special measures. The procedural law on elections endeavours to enforce principles set forth at a Fundamental Law level in practice during the course of elections. The procedural law on elections defines persons with disabilities as anyone with a full loss of sensory, (perception and hearing) motor and mental abilities or severely limited in these abilities or anyone severely inhibited in their ability to communicate, which is a disadvantage for the individual to actively engage in social life. The new electoral rules ensure numerous forms of help for persons with disabilities that were not available earlier and endeavours to ensure that the barriers ensuing from their situation do not inhibit them in actually enjoying their voting rights.

The new election rules ensure a variety of help unavailable earlier for persons with disabilities.

Idzi, illetve bvebben Borza BetaLux gnes (szerk.): Mltkppen mskpp Fogyatkosgyi projekt. JOB Projektfzetek 2010. 60. old., www.obh.hu/allam/2009/doc/fogyatekosugyi.doc 86 Az llampolgri jogok orszggylsi biztosnak Jelentse az OBH 2405/2009. sz. gyben. 87 Fogyatkos szemlyek jogai vagy fogyatkos jogok? A Magyar Civil Caucus prhuzamos jelentse az ENSZ egyezmnyrl. SINOSZ MDAC FESZT. Budapest, 2010. http://www.meosz.hu/doc/crpd_alternative_report_hu_2010.pdf
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Beyond the mobile polling booth that has been available so far, the new procedural law on elections ensures a new opportunity for blind persons in the way that, if requested, they may receive the election notice letter in Braille and cast their ballot during the voting procedure with the help of a Braille stencil. This is an important new feature of the election, since earlier on, persons with visual impairments could only vote by being aided by a relative, which, however, violated secret and uninfluenced voting. In addition, polling stations with handicap access also facilitates participation. In the case of voters that request to vote in a polling station with handicap access, however, there is no handicap access to the polling station designated according to the voters place of residence, the local electoral office shall reallocate the given voter and place her/him on the electoral roll of the polling station in the constituency of the given voter to which handicap access is ensured.

Progress has been made in assuring the right to exercise political rights.

Changes to the electoral system presented throughout this paper clearly indicate that progress has been made in Hungary in relation to 2010 in respect of ensuring citizens with disabilities the right to exercise political rights.88 As a ratifying state of the EU Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities we have made major progress in complying with the criteria set out in the convention. This means that persons with disabilities will be able to take part in shaping political life in an even wider sphere in the new electoral system.

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http://www.ajbh.hu/kozlemenyek-archiv/-/content/10180/39/a-fogyatekosok-valasztojogarol

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