Bela Lakatos, mayor of Acs (a small town located on the Hungary-Slovakia border approximately 100 km northwest of Budapest), has announced he is quitting the national governing Fidesz party citing Hungary election law.
“The new election law provides no solutions for minorities. In fact, it categorically discriminates against them and forcibly pits them against one another”, Lakatos told Index.hu, a Hungarian news portal.
According to Hungary’s new election law, individuals formally identifying themselves as ethnic minorities are only eligible to vote for candidates representing their respective ethnic group.
The new election law forces Roma to choose between their right to vote in accordance with their political beliefs and their right to identify with their ethnicity, say Istvan Makai of the Budapest Roma Citizens Council.
Makai has launched the “Don’t Register” campaign which advises Roma voters not to take part in the ethnic register. The campaign stresses that those who sign the ethnic register and identify themselves as Roma will not have any influence over Hungary’s mainstream political parties.
Candidates seeking to represent the Roma ethnic minority need approximately 20-25 thousand votes to become members of parliament. The law limits such ethnic groups to one representative. Even if 300,000 Roma identify themselves as part of the ethnic group and vote for the Roma representative of their choice, they will only have one representative, and will not be able to vote for national list candidates. The new voting law therefore promotes a disproportionate polarization of voting rights for Hungary’s ethnic minorities electing to be identified as members of minority communities.
Roma civil organizations are calling the law undemocratic.
Fidesz MP Gergely Gulyas (Fidesz), coauthor of the new election law, says the new election law greatly improves the voting impact of ethnic minorities. According to Gulyas, even if the 25-25 thousand votes aren’t returned for an ethnic minority MP, the minority group will be able to send a “spokesperson” to parliament having all the rights of a regular member of parliament.
Except, of course, the right to vote.
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