Now that the election date has been set, we will start to feel the menacing deficiencies of the new election procedures. HCLU has started its election monitoring work, during which it is going to document if and how these procedures, which are going to be applied for the first time in 2014, harm our constitutional rights. In the coming months we are going to examine if the data, which draws an objective picture of the different election phases, supports our suspicion that the new regulations violate participation rights in practice.
HCLU (on its own and with others) has expressed its objections to the various elements of the new election procedures on many occasions. Our objections are founded on two grounds. First, the individual elements of the procedures do not meet the theoretical requirements of constitutionality. For example, the denial of voting rights to certain groups, or the unwarranted expansion thereof. Second, we have criticized certain elements of the new electoral system for the effects they can reasonably be ascertained to cause based on available data. It is expected these elements of the campaign regulations will narrow the space for political discourse. The objective of our monitoring activities is to show: these elements are not only expected to have a negative effect, but when applied in practice, they will also in fact lead to violation of constitutional rights of constituents.
We are convinced that it is the legal system, namely an appropriate electoral procedure and the legal guarantees, that has a duty to ensure free and equal political participation of citizens. Thus, when evaluating the various effects of the electoral system, we are trying to find an answer to the question whether the election procedures within the present socio-economic conditions in Hungary enable all citizens to practice their political participation rights according to their will. Additionally, we ask if the circumstances are fair and rights equally distributed.
Therefore, we are specifically focusing on the following domains:
(1) Campaign: How are the conditions for free and equal political discourse able to prevail as a result of the new campaign regulations?
(2) Voting rights of vulnerable groups: How can people with any kind of disabilities, the homeless, and the incarcerated exercise their voting rights? How do ethnic minority voters exercise their voting rights, and how does this affect the significance of their political participation?
(3) Voting rights of citizens abroad: How can citizens with and without a permanent address in Hungary exercise their voting rights?
Focusing our monitoring work according to the questions above will provide us with concrete, tangible data that are expected to prove the new electoral procedures, which will be applied for the first time in 2014, will have a significant negative effect on the free, fair, and equal political participation of political community members – as we have reasonably surmised.