External Hungarian citizens to get voting rights

by EUDO CITIZENSHIP consortium members Mária M. Kovács and Szabolcs Pogonyi

“The current Constitution ties voting rights to permanent residence in Hungary. We do not want to uphold this provision”, Fidesz MP Gergely Gulyás, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee drafting the new constitution said on Duna TV on October 19, 2010.

Gulyás noted that if the national minorities in Hungary are to be entitled for parliamentary representation, then “Hungarian citizens, who consider themselves part of the nation but live abroad because of well known historical events, cannot be denied voting rights either”.

Though Gulyás referred to the Constitution only, and the Act On Voting Rights will also need to be modified, the announcement clearly shows that the Fidesz government is considering to revoke the provision tying voting rights to permanent residence in Hungary. If the Act on Voting Rights is modified accordingly, ethnic Hungarians living abroad will be eligible to vote, since the Fidesz government has already offered citizenship to Hungarian speaking, non-resident descendants of former Hungarian citizens, or of ancestors with origins in Hungary.

In another interview to index.hu, Gulyás hinted that eight seats may be reserved for transborder ethnic Hungarians – one for each neighbouring state with large Hungarian minorities and the rest for the new constituencies in Western Europe, North America, Latin America and Australia. As Fidesz is planning to reduce the number of MPs to less than 200, non-resident Hungarians’ votes could then decide about four percent of all seats in the parliament.

Read more: http://www.dunatv.hu/itthon/gulyas_schiffer_velemeny_valasztojogrol.html