Presented by Máté Dániel Szabó (Director of Programs, HCLU) at the international conference "No country for civil society – What strategies can human rights organizations follow under increasingly authoritarian regimes?" on 30 May, 2014, Budapest
On 25 May 2014 (Sunday), from 6am to 7pm.
You can vote for closed party lists. Hungary has 21 seats in the EP (which has altogether 751 seats). Hungarian seats are distributed on a proportional representation basis among those party lists which collect at least 5% of the votes.
If you are a citizen of any EU member state, reside in Hungary, and are at least 18 years old, you are eligible to vote for the Members of the European Parliament representing Hungary. If you are not a Hungarian citizen, you have to file a registration request in order to get onto the electoral rolls (see Question 5 below). Voter registration is not automatic for non-Hungarian citizens.
On the one hand, you are eligible to vote only if a Hungarian citizen in your circumstances is eligible to vote. For example, if a Hungarian court has restricted your right to vote as a criminal sanction, you may not participate in the elections as long as the term of the sanction has not elapsed. Additionally, you are only eligible to vote if you are at least 18 even if your country of citizenship applies a lower age limit to the right to vote. (If you prove ineligible only on this basis, and want to exercise your right to vote, but you cannot leave Hungary to cast your vote in your country of citizenship, see also Question 10 below.)
On the other hand, Hungary also applies voting rights restrictions imposed by other EU member states on their own citizens. Thus, if you are not eligible to participate in the EP election in your country of citizenship (e.g., because you are under guardianship or you are ineligible to vote as a criminal sanction), you may not cast your vote in Hungary either.
If you are eligible to vote (see Question 3 and Question 4 above), you have to request your registration as a voter in the EP elections. Once you are registered to cast your vote for the MEPs representing Hungary, you may no longer cast your vote in the EP elections in any other member states, including your country of citizenship. (Of course, you are entitled to choose again where you want to exercise your right to vote in future EP elections.)
Registration requests must be received by 9 May 2014 (Friday), 4pm.
Voter registration requests may be filed on-line here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the English menu item “Application of enrolment/deletion from the electoral register at the European Parliamentary Election”). Alternatively, you may lodge your request to the Local Election Office (“Helyi Választási Iroda”) in person or via mail (in which case we recommend you send it as registered mail with a return receipt [“tértivevényes ajánlott küldemény]): forms may be downloaded from here, but these offline forms are available only in Hungarian. Contact information regarding your Local Election Office can be found here.
If you have already requested registration as a voter in the EP elections in Hungary, but you want to exercise your right to vote in a different member state instead, you may withdraw your registration.
Registration withdrawal requests must be received by 15 May 2014 (Friday), 4pm.
Withdrawal requests may be filed on-line here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the English menu item “Application of enrolment/deletion from the electoral register at the European Parliamentary Election”). Alternatively, you may lodge your request to the Local Election Office (“Helyi Választási Iroda”) in person or via mail (in which case we recommend you send it as registered mail with a return receipt [“tértivevényes ajánlott küldemény]). Forms may be downloaded for printing from here, but these offline forms are available only in Hungarian. Contact information regarding your Local Election Office can be found here.
No. Unlike in some other member states of the EU, participation in the EP elections is only a right but not a legal obligation in Hungary.
You will receive a notification – in Hungarian – informing you that you have been registered as a voter for the EP elections. This notification also specifies the address of your polling station. Addresses of the polling stations will also be made available on the website of the National Election Office.
If you are not a Hungarian citizen, you are required to show the following at the polling station so as to be allowed to cast your vote:
(1) passport or ID issued by your country of citizenship, AND
(2) Hungarian address card ["lakcímet igazoló hatósági igazolvány", also known informally as "lakcímkártya"]
You are only eligible to vote only in your country of residence. If you reside in Hungary, you can only vote for the candidates of the MEPs representing Hungary—and only if you are elgibile to vote in Hungary. Yet if you are a resident of your home country, and you are eligible to vote there, it is possible that you may cast an absentee ballot without physically leaving Hungary. Whether there is an absentee voting procedure available for such purposes depends on the electoral procedure of your country of citizenship.
Yes, you may if (1) you are a citizen of an EU member state, (2) you reside in Hungary, (3) you are at least 18, (4) no Hungarian court has restricted your right to vote, and (5) your right to stand for elections has not been restricted in your country of citizenship (as a form of criminal sanction or because you are under guardianship).
Last week’s dismal decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court (CC), the National Electoral Commission and the Data Protection Authority (DPA) have proved former concerns of human rights NGOs correct: institutions, which ought to be independent and have the duty to guard constitutionalism have failed. Read the full analysis here.
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.
In response to our call, the National Election Office (NVI) has initiated an important amendment to the electoral procedure, thereby restricting opportunities for electoral fraud. The government amended the relevant decree. HCLU welcomes the modification, as it results in the increased transparency of the elections and an increased level of protection for the right to vote. However, we hold that further modifications are necessary to prevent fraud.
Two actions were launched by the HCLU regarding the right to peaceful assembly in December, 2013. Both actions concern to the same problem: lockdown of a public area around the Prime Minister's residence. In the first case, the police dispersed an ongoing peaceful demonstration on the grounds of closing off the area, for which the organizer filed a claim against the police with the help of HCLU. In the other case, another demonstration planned by the same organizer at the same venue was banned by the court, which was then challenged before the Constitutional Court. Both decisions are ill-unfounded and misinterpret the constitutional limitations of the right to protest.
The Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union criticize the abolishing of the upper age limit of 70 years in case of elected Constitutional Court judges, including current serving judges.
According to human rights watchdog the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the proposed bill to change the Criminal Code as it relates to protecting human dignity and preventing falsification of evidence is unconstitutional as it violates the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. By reacting to one particular case, this move from the legislative body would further deconstruct both its own prestige and that of the judicial branch.
Constituents who have residency in Hungary, but work or study abroad for a prolonged period of time, and consequently are not going to be in Hungary on the day of the parliamentary elections, may only vote at the foreign embassies. In certain cases, this might necessitate a journey of several hundred kilometres, and entail considerable costs, or even prevent them from voting. At the same time, constituents who are going to stay abroad on the day of the election as well, but who do not have residency in Hungary, can vote by post, which is cheap, simple and convenient. HCLU, representing a constituent working abroad, has contested these discriminative rules at the Constitutional Court.
In response to increasing restrictions on personal freedoms and civil protest, independent national human rights organisations from ten countries today launched the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO). They also released “Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalisation of Protest Around the World,” a collection of nine case studies showing patterns of police crackdown and abuse against peaceful assembly, accompanied by concrete recommendations to expand free speech.
The Metropolitan Court of Budapest invalidated the decision of Budapest’s chief police officer that effectively banned an announced demonstration at the Prime Minister’s residence. The decision also found that closing the area, in order to prevent the demonstration, violated the law. The HCLU welcomes the decision by the court which stated that “limiting a peaceful demonstration because it is held in the presence of a high level official but otherwise serves as an expression of a political opinion is unnecessary in a democratic society.”