Fidesz official Jozsef Szajer told a Saturday conference he considers it a scandal that the current electoral law is biased and “freezes out” children, who make up 20 percent of the Hungarian population.
Szajer, an MEP who heads the national consultation board on the drafting of Hungary’s new constitution, urged the establishment of a social council to examine the possibility of giving parents extra votes in local and general elections.
He said he would propose such a council comprising demographics experts, lawyers, public intellectuals and family representatives, to Prime Minister Viktor Orban and President Pal Schmitt. Further, he urged the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to start researching the topic.
He said nowhere in the world had such an idea as giving parents the right to vote on behalf of their children got so close to the statute books as in Hungary, where it featured in the governing parties’ constitutional draft.
The initiative hit the buffers, however, after being rejected by respondents to a government questionnaire on various aspects of the draft constitution.
Szajer said it was now unlikely to be enshrined in the new basic law, but the debate on the matter should be pursued so that society’s opinion changes.
He rejected a point highlighted in a recent television interview by the prime minister, who said people were scared that Roma people would get a disproportionate share of the vote because they had large families. Szajer said this worry was immoral and a deliberate attempt to misinform voters about the real purpose of unlocking the child vote.
Zoltan Balog, a Fidesz lawmaker, state secretary and chairman of the Foundation for a Civic Hungary, told the conference that he personally supported the enterprise, and even though it appears unlikely to make it to the statute books, it was worth continuing debate over the issue.
The parliamentary groups of the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democratic parties submitted an amendment to the draft constitution on Monday, rejecting the initiative to giving the right to parents to vote on behalf of their children, based on the outcome of the national consultation.
Janos Lazar, the Fidesz group head, told a news conference that the social and professional debate should continue and Viktor Orban, the prime minister, told public television show Az Este that “my heart aches because people, in the end, threw out the opportunity to have the family vote”.