Parliamentary elections in Hungary: the OSCE recommends a massive dispatch of observers to monitor the ballot

About ten people are usually sent to EU countries during the elections. But the OSCE recommends a larger mission for this election which promises to be tight.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) obviously has some questions about the integrity of the general elections on April 3 in Hungary. In a report published on Friday 4 February, its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends sending eighteen observers to follow the pre-election period throughout the country, and “200 observers monitor punctually, the day of the election, the procedures” elections. A large-scale mission is therefore envisaged, while around ten people are usually sent to EU countries during the elections.

It must be said that these elections promise to be tight for Viktor Orban. His party Fidesz, in fact, will face an alliance of six opposition parties that have joined together to try to overthrow the sovereignist Prime Minister. With polls showing that the Fidesz party and the opposition alliance were neck and neck in voting intentions, concerns arose about possible irregularities and vote-buying attempts. Legislative changes introduced in 2021 also facilitate the possibility of registering fictitious addresses, which, according to experts, increases the risk of fraud.

In January, twenty Hungarian NGOs asked the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to send a large-scale mission to Hungary comprising hundreds of observers to monitor the election. Similarly, a group of 62 MEPs called on the OSCE to send an enhanced observer mission to Hungary.

In the last elections in 2018, the OSCE sent a limited mission which concluded that the ballot had been “characterized by a massive interlocking of state and ruling party resources, which has compromised the ability of rivals to compete on an equal footing”. While acknowledging that “the voters had [à leur disposition] a wide range of policy options”the organization estimated that “Intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign finance have shrunk the space for genuine political debate, preventing voters from making their choices fully informed”.

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