(MTI) – A recent government decree banning election placards on electricity pylons, over public roads or on the roadside, curbs the freedom of campaigning and thus reduces a chance for fair elections, civil rights groups said in a statement on Friday.
The Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Eotvos Karoly Institute said the ban, which became effective this week, does not apply to posters conveying government information.
The statement’s signatories said that the decree, which they see as an extension of an earlier general ban on advertisements on roadsides, is an “unnecessary and unconstitutional restriction” of election campaigns as well as the right of voters to freely obtain information necessary for participating in the ballot.
In response, the Szazadveg Institute said in a statement that even before the current ban it had been prohibited to place election posters along roadsides.
Szazadveg research director Balazs Orban argued that the earlier legislation, enacted in 2011, had applied to all advertisements that sought to convince viewers to “support or reject any ideology, principle, value or idea”. The new decree, he said, merely contains a clearer definition of the earlier ban.
Orban noted that last year the Constitutional Court had found the earlier legislation to be in line with the constitution and reasonable as the ads may distract drivers.
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