OSCE/ODIHR final report on Hungary’s parliamentary elections recommends ensuring clear separation between state and party
Legal amendments to prevent the governing party from having an undue campaign advantage and periodic independent reviews of constituency boundaries are among the main recommendations made in the final report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on the 6 April 2014 parliamentary elections in Hungary.
While the report, published on 11 July 2014, states that the elections were efficiently administered and offered voters a diverse choice, it also says the main governing party enjoyed an undue advantage because of restrictive campaign regulations, biased media coverage, and campaign activities that blurred the separation between political party and the state.
The report notes that the legal framework was substantially amended using procedures that circumvented the requirement for public consultation. While some changes were positive, a number of key amendments negatively affected the electoral process, including the removal of important checks and balances.
The reduction of the number of seats in parliament enjoyed broad support, but there was criticism in the report that the manner in which new electoral district boundaries were drawn lacked transparency and inclusiveness. The report recommends inclusion of provisions for periodic review of constituency boundaries by an independent commission and the introduction of a formula that would allow flexibility in adjusting boundaries.
Noting increasing ownership of media outlets by those directly or indirectly associated with the governing party and the allocation of state advertising only to certain outlets, the report recommends amending legislation in order to prevent the governing party from having an undue campaign advantage. It further recommends that public media should be subject to strict rules prohibiting government interference.
Other recommendations include reviewing campaign finance regulations and introducing temporary special legislative measures to promote women candidates, such as gender quotas for party lists that place women in winnable positions.