Amidst the current political power relations, the introduction of prior registration to vote in the general elections would favour the right wing, which has more committed supporters, analysts polled by MTI said on Friday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public Kossuth Radio on Friday that parliament would vote on a proposal in September to introduce compulsory voter registration prior to elections.
“Anyone wishing to participate at the general elections would be required to register,” he said.
It is still a matter of heated debates if registered voters would be obliged to participate in the elections, Orban said.
Senior analyst Tamas Lanczi of Szazadveg Foundation noted that voter registration was a long-established practice in the US and Britain and there were precedents for mandatory voting, too, but combining the two would be an unorthodox step.
The new system would benefit the right wing as at present the ruling Fidesz and the radical nationalist Jobbik party are backed by a greater number of committed voters than the left, Lanczi said.
Think tank Political Capital said that Fidesz would seek to improve its chances by keeping away politically inactive voters with unstable party preference from the elections.
The introduction of voter registration would go against the general trend in democratic nations which strive to require the least possible efforts from voters as they are aware the high voter turnout in the elections is the best factor that can legitimise a government, Political Capital said.
Opposition parties slam plan
Hungary’s main opposition Socialist party objects to the Fidesz proposal to require prior registration to vote at the general elections, a party lawmaker told MTI on Friday.
Zsolt Molnar said with the move Fidesz was aiming to limit the range of participating voters and ultimately to bring an end to democracy.
Molnar said the Fidesz government had been gradually dismantling the Republic of Hungary over the past two years. He criticised the government for “changing democratic institutions to their own advantage and without consulting anyone”.
The majority of Hungarians are systematically excluded from shaping their future and plans to introduce voter registration is one in a series of such moves, Molnar said. He added that the Socialists call on the government to gauge opinion on the proposal instead of just announcing it through the media.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party said in a statement that instead of introducing voter registration, voting should be limited by a schooling requirement in order to prevent vote-buying among the impoverished, illiterate population. Jobbik has proposed earlier that only people with a primary-level education should be allowed to vote.
Gergely Karacsony, deputy parliamentary group leader of the small opposition LMP party, said the voter registration system was unacceptable for democrats. He said furthermore that its introduction “rested on lies”, for instance that it was in the interests of voters outside Hungary that the system should be introduced.
The co-ruling Christian Democrats said, however, that voter registration was a known practice in several countries and it was not detrimental to democracy, on the contrary, it heightens its gravity and dignity.