News

Comparing the Vote-by-mail System of Florida and Hungary

The November 2022 midterm elections in the United States was the first time that new vote-by-mail regulations in certain North American States were applied. One of them was Florida, where the changes entailed extensive media coverage. In this article, I analyse the most crucial amendments of the Florida election procedure by comparing them with the currently existing Hungarian system of vote-by-mail.

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Electronic voting in Brazil: lessons to be learnt in the Visegrád region

Electronic voting has already been discussed in one of the contributions to this project. Clearly Covid sparked an interest in this innovative method of voting, while the recent elections in Brazil have directed some spotlight on how it is managed in practice. This article explores what the Brazilian example has to offer for countries in the Visegrád region and more generally for decisionmakers who consider introducing e-voting.

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Postponement of the election date in Poland – once again?

In November 2022, as the most paramount issue in Polish electoral law, one would mention the postponement of the date for local elections. Under the current electoral calendar, these elections are set to take place in autumn 2023. However, because parliamentary elections are also planned for this time, the ruling party believes that we should postpone the date of local elections. A question worth considering here is as follows: whether, and if so, how does this idea relate to the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on electoral law?

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2022 autumn election in the Czech Republic – selection of surprising results 

In Autumn 2022 Municipal and Senate elections were held without special provisions for covid voters. The first round of Senate elections and Municipal elections were held on the same days. The electoral system for municipal councils is explained here. Those elections brought many surprising results which will be summarized in this brief news...

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Upcoming presidential elections in Czech Republic

In 2012 Czech political system was dramatically changed, after a constitutional amendment introducing the direct election of the president was adopted. The majority of academics (political scientists and lawyers) were against it, since it undermines the fundamental logic of a parliamentary regime. President should be  elected indirectly, to be under the legitimacy of the Parliament. However now, the President has the legitimacy coming directly from voters, creating the possibility for more extensive use of presidential powers.

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End of COVID-19? Czech Municipal elections and Senate elections without measurements regarding the pandemic

On the 23rd and 24th of September Municipal elections and the first round of Senate elections were held in the Czech Republic. The electoral system for Senate is two-round majority system in single-mandate districts. If none of the candidates from the constituency reach 50% votes, a second round is held in that constituency. That said, the second round of Senate elections was held on the 30th  September and 1st  October. The government decided not to implement any special voting measures regarding the pandemic as expected. However, the government also didn't adopt a bill on special voting methods which was drafted already in the first half of the year...

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Compulsory voting in Poland during a pandemic

The Act of 6 April 2020 introduced mechanisms that can be equated with the concept of compulsory voting, understood as the obligation to vote, which occurs in 22 countries around the world, amongst others such as Belgium, Australia, Italy. Legal regulations in this aspect are varied, but most often the abstention from compulsory voting is punished with a fine.

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Could elections be too difficult to hold?

In May 2020, Poland faced an unprecedented situation. For the first time in history, the elections were postponed without any clear legal grounds. The presidential election ordered by the Marshal of the Sejm should have taken place on May 10, 2020. However, a combination of the epidemic and political and legal circumstances led to the interruption of the election process, including the failure to open polling stations...

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Undermining the principle of legislative silence

In the justification to the judgment of 3 November 2006 in case K 31/06, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal indicated that the constitutional standard of establishing the norms of electoral law requires that significant changes to the electoral law be made no later than 6 months before the start of procedures for the organization of elections. The Tribunal emphasized that this principle is an irremovable normative element of the content of Article 2 of the Constitution (the democratic rule of law clause)...

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Alternative voting methods – Can we outsmart the pandemic?

Alongside almost each element of our daily lives Covid-19 has made us rethink the legal background regulating elections and referenda. In the context of this Visegrad project and also in a broader sense multiple valuable contributions have been made in this discussion by fellow student contributor Lili Karácsony, published by the Institute for Legal Studies. If we suppose that despite the pandemic health experts advising governments think it is safe for a specific election to go ahead on its designated date, it still does not mean that no measures can be taken to further decrease the chance of virus transmission. International Idea Institute provides a comprehensive list of measures introduced in 2020 in polling stations with the most commonly used methods being: social distancing, PPE (personal protective equipment) for polling station staff, mandatory mask use, use of hand sanitizer, temperature checks and many others.

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Hungarian local governance in coronavirus– The curious case of the mayor’s very own budget

The year 2020 was full of local political controversies in Hungary, and quite a few of these could be attributed to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was obvious that local assemblies could not function in their regular ways, but at first it was not known how Parliament intended to help democracy in the municipal level thrive despite the virus.

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Two birds with one stone – the significance of joint elections in Hungary

At first -and possibly also at second- glance Hungarian politics seems very adversarial, and it is rather difficult to find issues which enjoy support from a broad spectrum of parties. By law a general election had to take place this year (as the previous one was held in 2018), but this was not the only occasion voters would have had to approach their local polling stations, as Parliament ordered there was also a referendum to be held this year about so called “child protection”, relating to a law passed in 2021.

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Voting from abroad during the 2020 presidential elections in Poland – experiences and long-term effects

When one analyses the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on Polish electoral law, in the first instance, one should refer to the experiences related to the 2020 presidential elections. Many legal issues of major practical importance have been raised in connection with these elections, and these challenges have stimulated discussion on both general and particular solutions as regards Polish electoral law. One key difficulty was voting from abroad, which was significantly hampered in the presidential elections due to the pandemic situation. Related problems were recognized and raised by a wide range of specialists. Therefore, it is worth raising to formulate the following question: How will difficulties related to the exercise of the right to vote in abroad caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affect the electoral system in Poland?

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Skating on Thin Ice – Campaigning in a Secondary School?

Likewise, with other tasks, the digital transition in education did not go entirely smoothly during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This health crisis implied a multi-faceted challenge, even for developed countries like Hungary. One of the most intense questions was how the state can ensure equal access to digital education, regardless of the pupils’ and their families’ financial backgrounds. This problem area resurfaced during the election campaign period when the Curia (the Supreme Court of Hungary) had to answer a frequently raised question: whether it was campaigning, or it shall be considered exercising the right to hold office. From a politician's point of view, it always fulfils the requirements of a skating-on-thin-ice situation.

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“The Show Must Go On” – The Hungarian Election Campaign Overshadowed by the Pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

As an important political milestone, on 3 April 2022, Hungary held the general elections of Hungarian National Assembly Members. In accordance with Act XXXVI of 2013 on Electoral Procedure (EPA), the official campaign period lasts from the 50th day before and until the end of Election Day, yet campaign activities, which aim to influence voters’ choices, presumedly start long before that 50-day term. 

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Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected discussion of e-voting in Poland?

Within an analysis of the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the electoral systems of V4 countries, it is difficult to overlook the issue of alternative voting methods. After all, we primarily associate the pandemic with lockdowns, limitations of freedom of movement or other restrictions on access to the public domain. It has been obvious to consider alternative voting methods with greater weight, especially electronic voting (e-voting), as during the pandemic time there was a need to limit the number of voters at polling stations. It therefore constitutes a worthy question, whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the discussion of e-voting in Poland.

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Did the Hungarian Government Inform Its Citizen or Take Part in The Campaign on The Side of the Ruling Parties during the Election Campaign Period?

Within the scope of state neutrality, this is mainly the first question which shall be raised when we tend to adjudge the communication of a public authority during the election campaign period. In many cases, public authorities use their positions to interfere with the campaign, even though their obligation is to warrant “political pluralism and the political parties’ equal opportunity in the political contests” . Let’s see whether the Government’s newsletter met these expectations. 

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Post-Covid political campaigning in the light of the war in Ukraine

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in Europe has been going on for over three months now, triggered by the Russian Federation's attack on the territory of Ukraine on Thursday 24 February 2022. Much has changed by this step for Europe and for individual states. In the Czech Republic, food and fuel prices are rising dramatically, the challenges of the pandemic received remarkably less highlight in the public communication, while many people are also fearful of the spread of the conflict and the use of nuclear weapons, as a recent poll by the private media outlet CNN Prima News showed. All these problems are in some way linked to political campaigning. In this brief commentary, I would like to look at how political campaigning is going in the Czech Republic in the light of the war in Ukraine.

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Czech municipal and Senate elections in 2022: With or without anti-covid-19 measures?

In the past two years, when regional elections and elections to the Chamber of Deputies were held, the government came up with several measures to allow people infected with covid-19 to vote. These included the alternative method of drive-in voting, where the citizen could cast his vote from their car. But what about this year's regional and Senate elections?

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Correspondence voting from abroad: Will we see it this term?

The Czech Republic is one of five EU countries where it is not possible at least for some citizens living abroad to vote by correspondence. The same is true for Croatia, Iceland, Malta and France. However, the latter has introduced the possibility to vote from abroad via the internet from 2020. Though, the possibility of voting by correspondence from abroad appears in the new Czech government's programme statement. Does this mean that in the beginning of the post-Covid period, it will be introduced soon?

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How did France handle the challenges caused by the pandemic during the April presidential election?

Although the focus of our project is the effects of COVID-19 on the electoral systems of the V4 countries, it is worth mentioning that not Hungary was the only European country which held general elections in April 2022. Among others (Serbia, Slovenia) France also conducted its presidential election the same month. The first round of the two-staged election was organised on 10 April, while the second round took place on 24 April. France plays a significant role in Europe and the European Union, so it is beneficial to compare which aspects of the election it handled similarly to or differently from the V4 countries that have also conducted general elections since the beginning of the pandemic.

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How did COVID-19 impacted the recently held elections in Serbia?

On the same day that Hungarian citizens decided about the composition of the Hungarian parliament for the next four years, the country’s southern neighbour, Serbia also held its presidential and early parliamentary elections on April 3 2022. 

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How did the pandemic influence the role of the virtual communication in election campaigns?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging and unprecedented situation for mankind in several fields. The organisation and conduct of elections shall not be an exception either. Since the spring of 2020 countries have been faced with new questions and obstacles, to which their electoral systems cannot always provide a proper answer. One of the many challenges in connection to the elections is related to campaigning. It has become demanding for candidates in all countries that have held elections since the outbreak of the coronavirus to reach their voters, as always new restrictions have been introduced by the governments to minimize spread of the virus.

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War and democracy, or externalities of an armed conflict in the neighbourhood: recent challenges in Hungary

While many countries most pressing difficulties regarding their democratic systems is still the COVID19 pandemic, being geographically close to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Hungary has to adapt its policies either to the challenges of both the pandemic and the newly materialized Ukrainian situation. Moreover, the forthcoming national parliamentary elections of Hungary are to be held on April 3, 2022, and a national referendum will be also organised from four questions simultaneously with the elections.

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Away from home, away from my rights?

On April 3, 2022 Hungary will be holding its national parliamentary elections for the first time since the outburst of the COVID19 pandemic. Organizing elections and meeting the usual requirements of democratic elections in most countries cause significant difficulties for governments, as it is indispensable to bear in mind the citizens health and at the same time create a functioning system for electing the democratic leaders.

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Parliamentary elections in Hungary: COVID-related RESTRICTIONS

Hungary’s first national election, the forthcoming parliamentary  since the outburst of the COVID19 pandemic is being held on April 3, 2022 (jointly with a nation-wide referendum from four questions). 

 

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