Illustration – Photo: wikipedia

Opposition demands destruction of mailed votes

Hungarian opposition parties are demanding the immediate destruction of vote-by-mail slips after many of them were found dumped and partially burned in an illegal landfill near Sfantu Gheorghe (Marosvasarhely) in Romania.

This “vile political crime” must not pass without consequences, Parbeszed spokesman Richard Barabas told an online press briefing streamed on Facebook on Thursday. The united opposition is therefore turning to the National Election Committee with a demand that it investigate the case and prevent any further abuses, he added.

Anna Orosz of Momentum said that what had happened to mailed votes in Transylvania and Vojvodina eroded confidence in fair elections and put ethnic Hungarians in “a humiliating position”. She said that voting slips were distributed to ethnic Hungarian Vojvodina voters by allies of Fidesz rather than the Serbian Postal Service, and that the ballots were often filled out in their presence.

Daniel Z. Karpat, Jobbik’s deputy leader, said news from Romania’s Transylvania and Serbia’s Vojvodina region suggested that Fidesz planned to commit election fraud on Sunday. Referring to the infamous “blue-ballot fraud” during the 1947 elections, he said “the fact that the one-time young democrat Fidesz politicians had become old Bolsheviks does not authorise them to commit a similar election fraud.”

Meanwhile, Orosz demanded the government guarantee equal conditions for all Hungarian citizens casting their votes abroad.

Under Hungary’s election rules, citizens with a permanent address in Hungary who are not present in the country on April 3 must travel to the polls at Hungarian embassies and consulates to cast their ballot, and, unlike Hungarian citizens beyond the borders, are not eligible to vote by mail.

Gergely Arato, deputy group leader of the Democratic Coalition, noted that observers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe had qualified the system of mailed votes “unsecure” during previous elections. Fidesz is abusing the ethnic Hungarians’ right to vote and has established a system that facilitates election fraud, he said.

In response to the accusation, ruling Fidesz said in a statement that the “desperate left wing is prepared to commit any kind of nasty act”.

The opposition, it added “has just committed the gravest election fraud” since Hungary’s transition to democracy over thirty years ago, Fidesz said, referring to what it called “a totally illegal database of [one-time prime minister Gordon] Bajnai”.

“In 2006 the left wing hallmarked by [ex-PM Ferenc] Gyurcsany and Bajnai set the television headquarters on fire and now the vote-by-mail slips,” Fidesz said.

The National Election Office (NVI) said later in the day that it has filed a criminal complaint concerning the trashed voting slips.

The NVI noted that under the law the slips could be delivered “personally or through people without a (specific) authorisation”, adding that “voters should pay special attention to the confidential nature of the mail and ensure that they safely returned back to the NVI”. Votes can be sent by mail, which is a guarantee of safe delivery, it said.

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