Index – Interior – The government rewrote the election law, but who is it good for?

Index – Interior – The government rewrote the election law, but who is it good for?
Index – Interior – The government rewrote the election law, but who is it good for?

On Tuesday, the Parliament voted to amend the election procedure rules. Part of the package includes, among other things, that in settlements with more than 10,000 inhabitants, a party must run a candidate in at least two-thirds of the individual districts if it wants to set up a compensation list, as well as the fact that individual by-elections will no longer be held in the year before the municipal elections, the vacant mandate the nominating organization may send another representative to the board to fill it.

Párbeszéd – Greens immediately announced that, in their opinion, the amendment to the election law violates the Basic Law, and therefore the party is appealing to the Constitutional Court.

What does it mean in practice?

In his analysis of Political Capital, he emphasized

even though it apparently only made minor amendments, Fidesz can play so that in those cities where there will be a common opposition mayoral candidate with a chance of victory, the majority of the representative body will be even more difficult to rally behind him than before. Saving as a reason can also be true – they just don’t want to save public money.

The institute also gave practical examples, for example, in Soroksár, the amendment will not bring significant changes, instead of the previous five, six candidates will be needed for the list. Another example is Debrecen, where in 2024, instead of twelve, those who would also apply for a compensation mandate must nominate sixteen candidates, “this is a crucial issue for the smaller political forces, because they have little chance of winning an individual mandate, but they can exchange the votes collected by their candidates for a compensation list mandate “.

They believe that parties with less support and civil organizations may be adversely affected by the amendment, especially those who have few candidates who can be deployed locally.

It is most obvious to think of the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party, but in most of the affected settlements, even the majority of the parliamentary opposition parties would have trouble fielding the required number of candidates on their own. Presumably, the recent amendment tries to narrow the scope of coordination of the opposition forces, which are disintegrated but still willing to cooperate in some way until the municipal election

they said.

Political Capital explained: “According to the current regulations, two parties or party alliances could divide the individual districts of larger settlements so that they only had to fight each other in one or two districts. For example, the twenty-three districts of Debrecen could be divided between any two opposition parties or party alliances, so that only one of them ran in 11 districts each, and they only had to field candidates against each other in only one district. The same two political forces will no longer be able to divide so painlessly: they can only nominate independent candidates in 7-7 places, while they must also run against each other in nine districts.”

The institute sees that the amendment pushes the opposition parties towards cooperation, “which according to the dry electoral mathematics, could even be in their favor”, and in any case they intend to participate in the local government election in some way in cooperation, “however, it is known among the opposition parties that the 2022 the lack of trust that has become dominant following the defeat, this incentive will hardly bring the parties apart. There is no doubt that they can no longer set two lists without disturbing each other’s circles, but even so, where there is an actual intention to cooperate, the most effective method will still be the setting of joint candidates and a single joint list, and this is not complicated by the amendment. “

Political Capital expects that “there will certainly be places where broad cooperation will be realized in 2024 as well, but in the vast majority of settlements there is a good chance that they will not be able to come to an agreement, and in many places they will run their individual candidates against each other. According to the NVI’s 2023 data, 168 settlements (including the twenty-three districts of Budapest) are affected. Fidesz can therefore play on the fact that even in those cities where there is a common opposition mayoral candidate with a chance of victory, the majority of the representative body will have a harder time standing behind him than before. From there, it is only one step to overthrow the city manager – as we have seen in quite a few cities in recent years.”

Klára Dobrev, the shadow prime minister and EP representative of the Democratic Coalition, firmly stated in her interview to our newspaper that the opposition parties will be able to come to an agreement.

Referring to the other amendment, Political Capital pointed out, “in those settlements where we will already be in the fifty-day campaign period on the day of entry into force, the interim representative elections will still be held, but after that we will be forced to do without these excitements for almost a year: the vacant representative seats will be filled in 2019 can be uploaded from compensation lists”.

The institute considers the motivation to be mysterious, “because Fidesz hardly has any reason to fear the midterm elections. There would have been plenty of objective reasons for it, but the support of the ruling party has not dropped in the past year, and there are not many signs that it will in the coming months”. It is considered more likely that “Fidesz simply no longer wants to invest energy in mid-term elections with no stakes. They really don’t have much significance, but hundreds of people still waste their time on this instead of preparing for 2024. Therefore, the intention to save as a basis of reference may still be true: but not in relation to public money, but to the efforts of Fidesz activists.”

“The narrative that this forces the anti-government forces to change strategy is a lie”

Krisztián Talabér, an analyst at the Nézőpont Institute, explained to our question:

Basically, we cannot talk about major changes, in practice it will mean almost nothing, since the phenomenon of the inter-cycle political balance of power will cease to exist in the last year before the election, and a moratorium on dissolution has existed until now.

He thinks of cost rationalization rather than politics as the reason for the change: “The intention to amend may have been born on the basis of a similar principle as the holding of municipal and European Parliament elections on the same day, since this way the state will save billions of dollars, which in the unpredictable economic situation caused by the war key. The amendment does not in any way reduce the chances of stable management of the settlements.”

The political scientist also said that since 2019, the opposition’s strategy has been based on a joint start and electoral cooperation, and in practice it will not be any more difficult for them than in the last local government election.

The negotiations are already underway – we wrote about the negotiations initiated by the MSZP here – and in this context the analyst noted that “the narrative that this will force the anti-government forces to change their strategy is definitely false”.

I feel that the left-wing statements objecting to the amendment are much more just a search for excuses, one could say that they are fleeing ahead on a communication level, in case a repeated election failure needs to be explained after June 2024, which, by the way, based on current opinion polls, is absolutely in the cards

Krisztián Talabér underlined.

(Cover image: The plenary session of the Parliament on May 22, 2023. Photo: Noémi Bruzák / MTI)

The article is in Hungarian

Tags: Index Interior government rewrote election law good


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