The project team will regularly publish blog posts on the preliminary results and short reflections on current issues. The blog posts will add to the promotion of the project, dissemination of our results and these will channel the topics of the project into scholarly discussions. Apart from the researchers nominated explicitly in the application, university students will also contribute to this undertaking as authors of blog posts. As part of this series of blog posts, two or three conference reviews will be also published from the main conference expected to be held in March 2023. During the whole research period, the publication of 10 blog posts is envisaged.
On October 19 this year, a draft act to amend the Electoral Code and certain other acts with the number UD457, submitted by the Minister of Digital Affairs, appeared in the list of legislative works of the government. The most important change to be introduced by the bill under discussion is the establishment of the Central Register of Voters. On the basis of the currently binding Electoral Code, Poland has a decentralized voter registration system. Currently, each municipality is obliged (Article 18 § 11 of the Electoral Code) to keep a register of voters, which includes persons entitled to vote permanently residing in a municipality, and to draw up the electoral roll before each election (Article 26 § 10 of the Electoral Code), which contains a list of persons entitled to vote in voting circuit within the municipality. One of the reasons for the fiasco of correspondence voting in the presidential elections in Poland ordered on May 10, 2020 was the failure to submit the election lists to the Polish Post Office, which, according to the Act of April 6, 2020, was to be responsible for organizing the voting. The current voter registration system will be completely changed if the draft act presented by the government enters into force.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all four countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) of the so-called Visegrád Group (also known as Visegrád Four or simply V4) have held their elections. In the following, I shall shortly introduce the postponed Polish presidential elections and the Czech and Hungarian parliamentary elections in the spirit of neutrality of public authorities in the election campaign. Moreover, the Slovakian parliamentary elections held shortly before the rising of the global pandemic will be also mentioned.
Covid-19’s effect on individuals’ fundamental rights cannot simply be overstated. This also concerns one of the most influential rights a citizen has and that is the right to vote. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was unclear to us as to how the incumbent crisis managing governments will undertake the task of organizing elections (thus potentially getting re-elected), as limiting the epidemiological risk was at the forefront of all governmental agendas around the world. It sure was a dilemma as nationwide one-day elections are substantial social events, and personal contact can hardly be eliminated, this results in the virus spreading faster than prior the elections, but on the other hand political power under the law is neither unlimited in time nor in substance, therefore democratic societies hold elections at predetermined intervals prescribed by law. Hungarian lawyer, political scientist and former president of the Constitutional Court Mihály Bihari holds that: "The people have sovereignty because the source of all state power is the electorate."(pp 2.) This obligation to hold elections resulted in occasions in which the external circumstances either did not allow for the vote to go ahead, thus it had to be postponed, or held amid the pandemic. International Idea Institute provides a wide range of statistics about Covid-19 and election postponement, their work serves as a cornerstone for this blogpost.
On 23 June 2022, as part of the research project IVF 22120065. funded by the International Visegrad Fund, aiming to analyse the impact of the global pandemic on the V4 countries’ electoral framework, a policy roundtable was held in a hybrid format to discuss the Hungarian experience on this matter. Four speakers were invited to the roundtable: Dániel Döbrentey, the Project Leader of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union; János Mécs, Project Leader of the Association of European Election Officers; Attila Nagy, the president of the Hungarian National Electoral Office; and Emese Szilágyi, the Electoral Observer of the OSCE ODIHR Election Observation Mission to Hungary 2022.
As part of the international research project funded by the International Visegrad Fund, an English-language roundtable on hybrid format from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Czech elections and electoral law was organized on 29 June 2022 by doctor Jan Grinc and associate professor Marek Antoš at Charles University, Faculty of Law, Prague. .
On 30 June 2022, at the Jagiellonian University Centre for Interdisciplinary Constitutional Studies, a roundtable discussion on “Crises and democracy: the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on V4 countries’ electoral systems” was held on a hybrid format. The seminar was dedicated to the 2020 presidential elections in Poland and their implications for assessing the integrity of the electoral process and the state of democracy.
This blogpost is a report from the Slovak Roundtable on Constitutional Limits to the Right to Vote under the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic. During the meeting, many interesting ideas were expressed, in which the participants focused on the elections taking place in Slovakia during the pandemic. The importance and originality of this meeting is due to the uniqueness of the topic, which has affected and will continue to affect Slovakia.
This blogpost discusses issues such as whether legislation in Slovakia allows for postponing elections at all, how Slovakia has managed to handle local by-elections, and how the pandemic has determined the direction of lawmaking for the next elections to be held this autumn. You can read the blogpost at the blog of the Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies.
As part of our endeavors to analyse Covid-related electoral law development around the Visegrad region, our next student contributor, Richard Beran from the Charles University (Czech Republic) examines the changes in the electoral process for the elections to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic’s Parliament in 2021. You can read the blogpost at the blog of the Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies.
This blogpost examines the issues arisen in connection with voting at embassies and consulates especially in the light of the still lasting world pandemic. You can read the Voting at embassies and consulates during the 2022 parliamentary elections in Hungary - New problems caused, and long-existing concerns intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic at the blog of the Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies.
As part of our endeavors to analyse Covid-related electoral law development around the Visegrad region, our first student contributor, Lili Karácsony from the Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary) assessed the public health measures surrounded the oppositional primary elections during Autumn 2021. You can read the Primary election in the shadow of the pandemic at the blog of the Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies.