After completely redrawing the country’s electoral districts (accompanied by massive gerrymandering), the Orban-government is now introducing voters’ registration as a precondition of voting in the general election in 2014.
In order to understand the motives, here are the key characteristics of the political situation today:
- Orban’s Fidesz has lost more than the half of its supporters since general elections 2010 and is hugely unpopular.
- However, it is still the most popular party in the arena since voters are equally unhappy with the opposition parties
- Voters’ general disillusionment has reached all time high, i.e. polls show a record “don’t know/would not vote” proportions.
- Fidesz is way more organized than its opponents. They have active party groups in each corner of the country that are efficiently organised into chains of command and they have built huge, (partly illegal) data bases of voters.
So fidesz is relatively speaking strong but faces a disillusioned/angry mass that is rather unpredictable. So what do they do?
First they redrew the voting districts. Surprisingly, analysis shown that with these new districts, fidesz would have won all of the past three elections (two of which it lost, in fact).
Then they changed the mandate calculation rules for general elections in ways which benefit the relative strongest party to the cost of all other parties.
Now they are introducing a registration procedure for the 2014 elections. Those who fail to register will not be able to vote. According to the current plan, the registration will need to be done in 2013 i.e. in the year before the general elections in 2014; and there will be just 2 weeks in which voters can register.
The officiall explanation is that this is good because it will be easier to vote. Seriously.
In fact there exists already a complete voters’ list which has worked perfectly well in the last 20 years. So there is no any objective need for an additional registration.
What’s the rationale for fidesz?
For one, this hurdle will hit primarily the least wealthy and least educated people, who are most probable to be offended by the government’s policies.
Second, by keeping the window for registration so short, fidesz can capitalise on its advantage in organisation. They will have no problem in getting their voters to the registration centres, while this will not be possible for many opposition parties.
Experts estimate that the participation in 2014 may decrease thereby from an already low 60% to some 40%.