Elections in Hungary not evenly contested, say international observers

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Elections in Hungary not evenly contested, say international observers

The elections in Hungary, which on Sunday raised Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to his fourth consecutive term, respected practical electoral procedures but were not a balanced contest, said the special mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that monitored the lawsuit on the spot.

The observers, in a report published on Monday (4), list three key elements that made the electoral balance unbalanced: there was no transparency in campaign finances, most media outlets did not provide independent coverage and electoral rules, reformed by Orbán, made the ruling party, Fidesz, merge with the Hungarian state.

“The campaign was marked by the absence of a level playing field and characterized by the overlapping of the ruling alliance campaign with official government campaigns, which gave the ruling coalition an advantage and blurred the line separating the state from the party”, reads an excerpt. of the 23-page document.

Fidesz, the party that Orbán founded, won 53.1% of the valid votes, taking 135 seats in Parliament – ​​and thus won a majority. The opposition alliance United for Hungary took 35% of the votes, totaling 56 seats. Voter turnout was 69.5%.

On election finance, observers said there were no requirements for disclosure of campaign donations, which led to overspending through third parties and largely favored the ruling party.

Regarding the press, they said that extensive government advertising campaigns and biased coverage favored the dissemination of Fidesz’s political agenda. For the other competing parties, campaign opportunities were limited by the national ban on contracting advertising and the limited time allocated by the channels to these candidates.

“This significantly limited the opportunity for voters to make a choice while being well-informed,” reads another excerpt from the report. The confirmation does not come as a surprise to analysts, who have already warned of the effects that the premier’s control over the public media and a good part of the private media would have on the election.

Even in the campaign on the streets, free in the country, there was an imbalance, since, according to the report, a significant disparity was observed in the allocation of space for billboards and campaign posters, favoring the ruling coalition over the opposition.

There was also room for criticism of the low political participation of women in Hungarian elections. They were underrepresented both on campaign agendas and as candidates, say international observers. Of more than 660 candidates registered with the country’s electoral commissions, less than 20% were women.

Conservative and far-right, Orbán has campaigned against what he calls “gender ideology” and against the rights of the LGBTQIA+ population. Over the last 12 years of his rule, he has redefined marriage as the union between a man and a woman. It also limited adoption by couples formed by two men or two women and the civil rights of transgender people.

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