“Near abroad” votes may secure as many as 2 mandates in parliament

February 5, 2018

"Near abroad" votes may secure as many as 2 mandates in parliament
Viktor Orbán among ethnic Hungarians in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. | Photo: Facebook/Orbán Viktor

According to the National Election Office’s voter registry, more than 337,000 Hungarians with no registered address in Hungary are now registered to vote in the upcoming election.

The increased vote registration from Hungarian citizens “near abroad” can be attributed to voter registration campaigns run by ethnic Hungarian parties operating in Romania and Serbia: Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSz) and Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSz).

László Róbert, an election specialist with Political Capital, a think-tank and consultancy, tells the Beacon:

  • The “near abroad” vote is prone to voter fraud. “Firstly, they vote by mail. It’s a much easier system to abuse. Secondly, the registered voters list of Hungarians living in the near abroad is not updated to reflect deaths. Once they’ve registered, that registration is valid for ten years. In fact, several thousand people may already be dead and they will receive a ballot in the mail at their address, which means anyone can vote in their name without the authorities being aware of the fraudulent vote. In other words, no one in Hungary knows whether this is a valid that was cast.”
  • Fidesz has a huge advantage because it maintains a presence in neighboring countries with large ethnic minorities and works with partner parties to mobilize support for the Hungarian election. The Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSz) in Serbia can be chalked up as a Fidesz ally, as can the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSz), but the latter is not nearly as unified in its support for Fidesz as VMSz. One member organization of RMDSz is definitely pro-Fidesz: the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania, led by Fidesz MEP László Tőkés.
  • Hungary’s domestic opposition parties have virtually no presence in these “near abroad” ethnic Hungarian communities. They campaign very little, if at all, in these areas.
  • The “near abroad” vote is incredibly valuable. In 2014, the “near abroad” vote gave Fidesz 1 mandate, securing the one mandate needed in the National Assembly to guarantee the two-thirds supermajority. While the final figures are not yet in regarding the total number of registered “near abroad” voters, the “near abroad” vote in the 2018 elections can provide as many as 2 mandates in parliament.