National Election Office won’t take action on Orbán’s letter to Hungarians beyond the border

July 21, 2017

The National Election Office (NVI) decided not to take action after Együtt politician Viktor Szigetvári objected to a letter Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent to Hungarians living outside Hungary, in which Orbán urged voters to register for next year’s general election, reports Index.hu.

Szigetvári, the former president of Együtt (Together) party, argued that Orbán’s letter amounted to party propaganda, and that only the election office is authorized to communicate with Hungarians beyond the border regarding elections due to their non-partisan status. According to Szigetvári, Orbán’s letter violated the independence of the NVI and the fairness of the election.

Members of NVI voted to reject Szigetvári’s objection without further inquiry Thursday in an eight to one vote. According to NVI members, the question falls outside the office’s authority since the letter was written outside of a campaign period, the only time the office is entitled by election law to investigate alleged abuses.

Szigetvári may appeal the decision to the Curia (Hungary’s highest court) within five days. It is likely, however, that the Curia will uphold the NVI’s decision since the court has made a very similar decision regarding last year’s quota referendum.

At the annual Fidesz party festival in Băile Tușnad (Hungarian name: Tusnádfürdő), Romania, NVI chair Ilona Pálffy said that currently there are 551,000 voting-age Hungarians who live beyond the Hungarian border but do not have permanent residency in Hungary, and are therefore entitled to vote by mail. So far approximately 300,000 Hungarians beyond the border have registered to vote in next year’s general election, Pálffy said.