Twice as many Hungarians living abroad likely to vote in 2018 election than in 2014

February 19, 2018

Hungarians living abroad could register to vote only as late as mid-March
Photo: Index.hu/Attila Nagy

Twice as many Hungarian passport bearers who have never lived in Hungary proper are likely to vote in the April 8 general election, reports index.hu.

As of February 15, more than 415,000 Hungarian citizens residing abroad had registered to vote, of which some 345,000 have been registered to date.

193,000 Hungarian citizens were registered to participate in the 2014 general election. An additional 81,000 were registered to participate in the 2016 referendum.

Index.hu writes that there are two reasons for the increase in voter registration on the part of Hungarians living permanently abroad.

Twice as many Hungarians living abroad likely to vote in 2018 election than in 2014
Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér (l1) Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l2) and President János Áder (r1) with the one millionth naturalized ethnic Hungarian and his family | Photo: Facebook/Orbán Viktor

Some one million Hungarian passports have been handed out since the Fidesz-KDNP political alliance-controlled parliament extended the possibility of Hungarian citizenship to people of Hungarian ancestry living abroad.

The largest Romanian Hungarian political party, RMDSZ, registered Romanian Hungarians to vote in the 2018 election while collecting signatures. Their task is simplified by the fact that a Hungarian government-funded foundation by the name of Eurotrans collects the names and data of those wishing to register to vote and remits this information to appropriate Hungarian authorities, a practice that Átlatszó Erdély, the Transylvanian affiliate of Hungarian online investigative reporting website Átlatszó, says is illegal.

Index.hu writes:

“The suspicion of fraud has arisen in connection with both.  It has been officially acknowledged that the Ukrainian mafia distributed tens of thousands of Hungarian passports.  Recently, the simplified naturalization procedure was in the news because several thousand Russian criminals were able to obtain Hungarian documents in this way, which ensures them the right to travel freely throughout the EU.”

The online daily reports that the RMDSZ politicians are actively campaigning on behalf of Fidesz in the Hungarian parts of Transylvania, where the vast majority of Hungarian passport holders not permanently residing in Hungary live.

At stake are two out of 199 parliamentary mandates.  Index.hu reports that, according to the Republikon Institute’s calculations, if the political opposition succeeds in coordinating their candidates in the electoral districts, then Fidesz may “only” end up with 130 our of 199 mandates, three seats shy of a two-thirds majority.

In 2014 Fidesz advisors told the daily online that “the two-thirds (majority) depended on one mandate, and the votes from abroad gave Fidesz the one mandate.”

Index.hu points out that the Hungarian head of state made clear what awaits Hungarians living abroad in the speech delivered last summer in the Romanian resort town of Băile Tușnad, and what he expects of his fellow Hungarian nationals who have him and his Fidesz party to thank for their newly minted Hungarian passports:

“If Hungarian-ness is surrounded by danger in the mother country, and if Europe is endangered in Hungary, then what will happen with the Hungarians living in the near abroad? A strong mother country is the most important condition for the flowering and preservation of the Hungarian community living outside the country’s borders today. Those parties that weaken the mother country cannot offer good policies, future, or opportunities to the Hungarian community living outside our borders.  They are not your friends, dear ladies and gentlemen, which is why I would like to ask everybody to register to vote. Don’t just root but kindly go onto the field, because you have a say in the outcome of the struggle for the Hungarian election.”