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Hungarian election was not a fair fight, observers say – POLITICO

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BUDAPEST — International observers raised concerns Monday over Hungary’s general election, saying electoral conditions had been tilted in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government.

Orbán’s right-wing populist Fidesz party won a fourth consecutive term in parliamentary elections on Sunday, once again securing a two-thirds majority in Hungary’s parliament.

Pundits and critics have long argued that Fidesz enjoys an unfair advantage in Hungary, arguing that the electoral system was designed to favor the ruling party and that it also controls much of the media and advertising landscape.

In an unusual move for an EU Member State reflecting widespread concern about the state of democracy in Hungary, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has deployed a large-scale mission involving over 200 observers in Hungary for the election.

The mission found that although there were few procedural problems on election day – which took place alongside an anti-LGBTQ+ referendum – the candidates did not compete on equal terms.

“The April 3 legislative elections and referendum were well administered and professionally managed, but marred by the lack of a level playing field,” the international election observation mission said in preliminary findings released Monday after -midday.

“Candidates were largely able to campaign freely, but although competitive, the campaign had a very negative tone and was characterized by pervasive overlap between the ruling coalition and the government,” the mission found.

“The lack of transparency and insufficient oversight of campaign finances”, according to observers, “have further benefited the ruling coalition” while “the one-sidedness and lack of balance in monitored media coverage and the absence of debates between the main candidates have considerably limited the opportunity of voters to make an informed choice.

The mission also pointed out that the manner in which many electoral disputes were handled “failed to provide an effective legal remedy”.

International observers had raised similar questions in 2018, following the last Hungarian parliamentary elections. Now many experts and diplomats say the problems have gotten worse.

“How can an election be free and fair in a state captured by the ruling party, and when a campaign is built on vilification and fear?” asked a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The OSCE report, the diplomat said, is “stronger than the 2018 report”.

While the OSCE mission was officially in Hungary at the invitation of the national authorities, it had been the subject of public criticism from the country’s government.

Orbán lashed out at observers in the days leading up to the election, telling pro-government media that “election observation is no longer about observing but about accusing: how do political forces they don’t like but can win can they be blamed long in advance. ”

The Hungarian government did not respond to a request for comment on the mission’s findings.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

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