Political activists launch online referendum site

July 6, 2017

Photo: Index/ Német Tamás

Political activists have launched an online referendum website where citizens can offer their opinions on given topics, skirting the National Election Commission’s pre-filtering of referendum questions, reports Index.hu.

The project was presented Tuesday afternoon at a press event by some members of the NowUs! (MostMi!) activist group, which organized several anti-government protests in 2014-2015. Members included stage director Árpád Schilling, founder of the free program guide Pesti Est András Lang, Gábor Bakos, Bori Takács and Flóra Takács (pictured above).

Organizers say they want to introduce an online referendum system similar to one already in use in Estonia because, they argue, the government currently arbitrarily decides on what issues and questions citizens may vote.

Organizers started the event by showing the latest video message of Schilling in which he vehemently attacks Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:

“Now listen, Viktor! Don’t you feel ashamed that under the guise of a national consultation you finance a party campaign from public funds? The sole purpose of this communications trick is to hold your voting camp together. You entertain two million people from the money of 10 million. Meanwhile, you take away our right to referendum. You send the message with your bald goons, with your János Áder, with your national commission that in this country people cannot decide.”

Schilling argues that if Orbán really wanted to consult Hungarians, he would give people a chance to ask questions. As this is unlikely to happen, people must create the necessary conditions, he says.

On the launched website – szabadszavazas.hu (freevote.hu) – citizens can register with an email address and vote on the questions, after which they must verify their identity by entering their ID number and their mother’s name. Each person may only vote once, and a cast vote cannot be withdrawn. In order to protect a citizen’s personal data, after the verification all personal information is deleted.

Organizers will test the system with three questions provided by Tanítanék Mozgalom (I Would Teach Movement), The Two-Tail Dog Party (MKKP) and Politics Can Be Different (LMP). Citizens can cast their votes until October 23 on the following questions:

Tanítanék

Do you agree that our country needs an education system in which children’s skills can unfold to the fullest possible degree, in which they can enter the labor market with a European-level knowledge and the ability to train themselves just as our fast-changing world requires? tweet

MKKP

Do you agree that the government should create a law about informing the citizens about the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant so that the National Election Commission cannot consider referendum questions about nuclear energy too complicated for citizens? tweet

LMP

Do you agree that the National Assembly should make all state security documents prior to the political system change public, and that it should make obligatory the systematic national security vetting of prominent actors in national politics after the political system change? tweet

Organizers underlined that they would like to give people an “experience of democracy” and promote online referendums at the same time. Schilling said that even if they fail in their attempt to introduce this method of voting, they at least gave it a try.

According to organizers, the system could be easily integrated into the already existing ügyfélkapu (customer portal) system. The nationwide implementation of online referendum voting would also provide people with Hungarian citizenship equal access to voting, contrary to the current practice where ethnic Hungarians in neighboring states with dual citizenship can cast their votes more easily than Hungarians working abroad.