By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary’s top court has thrown out a controversial electoral law that critics said favoured the ruling party, Fidesz. The Constitutional Court ruled against a requirement that voters register no later than 15 days before election day.
In a statement, the Court said the legislation would “unjustifiable limit voting rights for Hungarians living in Hungary by requiring all voters to register.”
It came as a setback for the center-right Fidesz party of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which dominates parliament.
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The head of the ruling Fidesz parliamentary group, Antal Rogán, told reporters that the latest court ruling will have major implications. “After consultations with the prime minister and the Fidesz leadership it was decided that the new voter registration system would not be introduced for the 2014 general election,” he said.
It came as a victory for former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who led protests and even a hunger strike against the election bill.
He told BosNewsLife that many people would have been unable to cast ballots because of a requirement to register no later than 15 days before the elections.
“Twenty five percent of the people decide to attend the election and to vote for any party just in the last couple of days, in the last one or two weeks,” he explained.
The Constitutional Court also objected to restricting political ads to publicly run media, calling it a “grave violation of freedom of speech.”
Additionally, it overruled plans to prevent cinemas of screening political ads during the campaign, and to ban the publication of any election-related opinion polls in the six days prior to voting day.
Last year, Orbán’s government was also forced to change laws after the European Union said they threatened democratic standards.
The European Commission – the EU’s executive, has challenged the government’s perceived attempts to limit the independence of the media, the central bank, the judiciary and even churches.
Prime Minister Orbán has accused the European Union of interfering in Hungary’s domestic affairs.
He says the measures are necessary to overcome the legacy of previous Communist rule.
(BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist nations and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).
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