No amendment likely to election law in connection with quota referendum
No amendment to Hungary's election law can be expected after talks were held on Monday among parliamentary parties at the initiative of radical nationalist Jobbik in connection with the form of voting at the Oct. 2 migrant quota referendum.
Under the election rules currently in place, Hungarians who have a permanent address in the country but are abroad on the day of an election or referendum can only vote at a Hungarian embassy or consular office near them, while ethnic Hungarians living beyond the border can vote by mail.
Jobbik called for five-party talks on a possible amendment to the election law allowing Hungarians working or studying abroad to vote in the referendum by mail. The party also initiated a special parliamentary session for August 18 to amend the law.
The talks on Monday were attended by lawmakers of ruling Fidesz, Jobbik and opposition LMP. The allied ruling Christian Democrats and the opposition Socialists stayed away.
Fidesz group leader Lajos Kosa said after the meeting that the party rejects to support an amendment, arguing that the current election law is "coherent and has stood scrutiny by such international organisations as the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission".
An amendment would be problematic from a procedural point of view since a time frame for appeals should also be considered, he told reporters. Kosa said he saw no reason for holding an extraordinary parliamentary session on the issue and added that the opposition parties failed to form a common position.
Dora Duro, Jobbik's deputy group leader, criticised both Fidesz and the Socialists over their stance, saying that the ruling party completely rejected their proposals while the Socialists did not even bother to show up at the talks.
She said the state should allow those Hungarians "who have been mostly forced to go abroad" to maintain contact with their home country in as many ways as possible. She added that "spirit of the current law" was against this.
Jobbik will continue with its efforts to have a parliamentary session called over the issue, she said.
Akos Hadhazy, co-chair of LMP, said the party supported an amendment to the law allowing voting by mail. At the same time, he reiterated that the quota referendum is pointless because it will not solve the problem of migration.