President Janos Ader on Saturday set the date of Hungary’s 2014 general election for April 6, which is the earliest possible Sunday under the law.
Parties able to field individual candidates in all 106 constituencies will be given financing from the central budget and will have a period of fifty days, starting from Feb. 15, in which to campaign for the ballots of Hungary’s eight million eligible voters.
For the first time since Hungary’s transition to democracy, the election will have a single round.
Further, the number of seats in parliament will be reduced to 199 from 386.
Prospective candidates must secure 500 signatures in a constituency in order to run, with a March 3 deadline.
A party may draw up a national list if they have at least an individual candidate in 27 constituencies in at least nine counties and Budapest.
All voters can cast two ballots: one for an individual candidate and another for the party list.
Voters who register themselves as a member of a national minority will cast their ballot for the list of the respective minority rather than for national parties.
Of the 199 members of the new Parliament, 93 will be elected from the parties’ national lists.
No party with less than 5 percent of the vote for its list can win a party-list mandate.
A further novelty is that non-Hungarian residents who have Hungarian citizenship will have the right to vote. They must register with the National Election Office (NVI) by March 22 in order to practise that right. Voting papers will be sent out to voters and these must be sent in turn to either a Hungarian foreign mission by the end of the voting period or to a local constituency election office. It can also be sent to the National Elections Office by April 5.
Hungarian voters who have an address in Hungary but are stationed abroad must turn up at either an embassy or consulate to cast their ballot on the day of the election. But beforehand, they must register with a local notary by March 29.
Under the constitution, the founding session of the new parliament will be convened by the president of the republic within 30 days after the general election. The prime minister will be elected by a majority of lawmakers based on the president’s proposal. Parliament will approve the government’s programme and elect the prime minister simultaneously.
In the past four elections the government took its oath of office between one-and-a-half and three weeks after the founding session.