Momentum calls for return of two-round elections, direct presidential election

August 17, 2017

Photo: Facebook/Momentum Mozgalom

Momentum Movement would restore the two-round electoral system and would introduce direct presidential election according to a statement published on the party’s website Wednesday.

The statement says reform of the general election system is necessary because the current system is disproportionate and “the voting method assumes one-dimensional electors”.

The party would keep the mixed electoral system in which electors can vote for a party list and an individual candidate of their constituency. However, Momentum would restore the two-round system for constituency seats and would change the proportion of National Assembly seats from the current 93 party list and 106 constituency seats to 129 party list and 70 constituency seats. The party argues that with increasing the weight of party list votes, the electoral system would be more proportionate.

Momentum promises to abolish the so-called “winner compensation”, a mechanism that transfers every single vote that was cast in addition to the minimum number of necessary votes to win a constituency to the winning candidate’s party list. This mechanism, which was introduced in the 2011 modification of the electoral law, awarded six seats to the Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) coalition in the 2014 elections. Momentum, however, would keep the “loser compensation” mechanism that transfers votes cast on losing candidates to their respective national party lists.

Momentum would modify the rules of absentee voting by making it available to Hungarian citizens who live abroad and are unable or disinclined to vote at embassies. This voting method is currently only available to dual-citizens living in neighboring countries.

The party also proposes modifications of rules on political advertising and party spending by introducing campaign party bank accounts, strengthening the authority of the State Audit Office of Hungary, limiting the roles of private donors and making the campaign activities of third-parties more transparent in order to eliminate the “CÖF-CÖKA phenomenon” (Civil Cooperation Forum, a satellite NGO of Fidesz). Momentum would ban the government and municipal councils through legislative measures from using public funds  advertising themselves. At the same time, the party would oblige commercial television channels, in addition to the state channels, to disclose parties’ programs during campaign periods.

Another major change urged by Momentum is the reform of the presidential election. The Hungarian President is currently nominated and elected by the National Assembly, thus citizens cannot influence the outcome of the vote directly. Momentum would introduce direct presidential election in order to provide the President with greater legitimacy. While the party stresses that it would not introduce a presidential system, they would broaden the authority of the President by giving them the right to initiate the removal of a Prime Minister with a constructive vote of no confidence. Momentum would also give the President a right of opinion and right to appoint certain public dignities.

The party stresses that the electoral system “must facilitate the establishment of a consensus based democracy”. And indeed, Momentum would need a broad consensus in order to undertake its electoral reform, as according to the Hungarian constitution, the electoral law can only be modified by a two-thirds vote, which is unlikely to happen in a Fidesz-KDNP-dominated Parliament.