The government will not introduce voter pre-registration in the 2014 general election, Antal Rogan, head of the parliamentary group of the ruling Fidesz party, said on Friday after the top court rendered several parts of the law on electoral procedures unconstitutional.
The court ruled this morning that several parts of the law on electoral procedures were not in line with the country’s Basic Law.
The preliminary constitutional review was initiated by President Janos Ader. The law was passed by parliament but had not yet gone into effect.
The top court ruled that the law curtailed voting rights to an unjustifiable degree, due to the fact that the requirement for voters to register prior to going to the polls applies to every voter, the court told MTI in a statement. It said that the option to be taken on a central election database is valid for certain voter groups, such as voting-age Hungarian citizens who do not have permanent residence in Hungary.
Passages of the law concerning the election campaign were also rendered unconstitutional. The suggestion that political ads can only be published through the public media is a grave violation of the freedom of opinion and the press, the court said. Further, it is against the stipulations of the Basic Law that cinemas should be prohibited from screening political ads during the campaign period or that election-related opinion polls should not be allowed to be published in the six days prior to election day.
Rogan noted that registration would have provided a good solution for hundreds of thousands of Hungarians working abroad to exercise their voting rights. After the ruling, this problem remains unresolved, he said.
“Of course, even after the court ruling has the two-thirds parliamentary majority both voter authorisation and political strength to amend the Basic Law and provide constitutional protection for registration. Strength alone, however, is not everything. For the time being, reason and political responsibility require us to do act otherwise,” Rogan said.
Fidesz has always given priority to democracy operating in a smooth, predictable and balanced manner, he said, adding that an amendment to the Basic Law would trigger lengthy political and legal disputes, uncertainty and a climate of chaos among voters prior to the 2014 parliamentary election.
Commenting on Rogan’s announcement, the opposition Socialists said that Fidesz had been forced to admit defeat on the issue.
The court ruling demonstrates that “the Hungarian rule of law is still alive”, Zsolt Molnar, the Socialists’ deputy leader in Budapest, said.
Green party LMP qualified the ruling as “a turn in political history”, one that reflected the “basic outrage” pre-registration had triggered on the part of the public. “Registration would have been Fidesz’s worst move,” deputy parliamentary leader Gergely Karacsony said.
Together 2014, the electoral movement led by ex-PM Gordon Bajnai, called on the governing majority not to amend the rules of electoral procedures without the consent of the opposition parties.