With suspicions of fraud hanging over Hungarian parliamentary elections last Sunday, April 3rd, many international observers had been sent to Hungary to check that everything was done in the best possible conditions, free from fraud and pressure.
For many months the European Union has maintained a climate of mistrust around Hungary, accused of taking liberties with democracy and the rule of law. The European Parliament therefore sent a monitoring mission led by Spanish VOX MEP Jorge Buxadé, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. Buxadé gave an interview to the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet, in which he confirms that in his opinion everything went according to the rules.
“We visited more than 12 polling stations in the capital and in the municipalities around Budapest, where we found an electoral system that most fully respects the rule of law and the rules of free and secret elections,” the MEP said.
There were no complaints regarding election transparency submitted by Hungarian authorities, and it appears that such grave concerns over fairness provided an excuse for a fishing expedition. Buxadé pointed out to Magyar Nemzet that there are still prejudices against the Hungarian system at the European level. During his previous trip to Hungary at the request of the LIBE Committee on Civil Liberties in October, 2021, reports warning of election tampering had been drafted in advance of the mission.
In all, no fewer than 900 foreign observers travelled to Hungary, significantly more than in the previous election in 2018. In addition, Hungarian law required that seven officials and one local adviser, a ‘president of section,’ be present in each electoral station. “The officials were composed of three independent members, two members close to the majority and two to the opposition, with the aim of ensuring the correct conduct of the electoral process,” reads the website for the Italian foundation Nazione Futura, which was among the foreign observers responsible for monitoring the election.
Apart from monitoring operations, the members of the Italian delegation were also able to talk to voters and officials, including those from the opposition. The members of the delegation, being registered in the National Election Office, could enter polling stations throughout Hungary in total freedom and choose independently where to go.
There were no suspicions of fraud in the election. However, mistrust of the Brussels institutions towards the Budapest government is very much alive, as proven by the decision confirmed on Tuesday, April, 5th, to suspend the allocation of European funds to Hungary.
Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).