The system has the potential to squeeze Hungary’s far right out of the political game by allowing smaller minority parties and independent candidates an opportunity to gain seats in the Parliament.
„The rhetoric of the far right is increasingly echoing across the European public sphere. With European Parliament elections fast approaching, there is increasing talk about the likely success and future role the populist far right will play in the EU. (...)
In contrast, Hungary offers a compelling answer to the increasing pressure from these parties.
The extremist anti-Semitic and anti-Roma Jobbik party currently holds 43 seats in the Hungarian Parliament and has a rather unsavory impact on the international media image of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. However, could this all be about to change with the country’s recent electoral reform and upcoming parliamentary elections on April 6?
While Hungary’s new electoral system has been harshly criticized in the media as favoring Orban’s ruling party Fidesz, there is more to it than meets the eye. The system has the potential to squeeze Hungary’s far right out of the political game by allowing smaller minority parties and independent candidates an opportunity to gain seats in the Parliament.
The strong reasoning behind the Hungarian government’s review of the electoral laws stems from the desire to realize the benefits of a more inclusive parliament. The previous and outdated system made it more difficult for small political groupings and independent candidates to prevail in elections, forcing some voters who were disenchanted with the political establishment, to vote tactfully and shift further right in a show of discontent.
In reality, Hungary’s new rules have paved the way for a more representative system with greater opportunities for smaller parties. The number of voter signatures and nominations needed for candidates to run has been substantially reduced and the portion of seats in the Parliament that are elected through single member electoral districts has also increased; out of the 199 member Parliament, 106 MPs will be elected directly from districts and the rest from party lists.
Recent polls indicate that Jobbik has seen a slight boost in support and this may be indicative of other parties’ lack of adequate responses regarding European issues concerning citizens. However, a large portion of the population (25%) still remains undecided, awarding some leeway to other parties and candidates to recapture the population. Jobbik will have to hope for a strong protest vote because otherwise it is unlikely that the party will benefit from these new changes in the electoral rules. The increased opportunity for smaller political groupings and individual candidates increases the prospects that voters will sympathize with other more moderate parties.”