Diaspora leaders call for protest against a leftist proposal to withdraw voting rights

Ethnic Hungarian leaders have issued a protest against a call by a leftist opposition leader to withdraw voting rights from ethnic Hungarians living beyond the borders.

The Democratic Coalition led by Ferenc Gyurcsány insists government schemes to support ethnic Hungarian communities aim squarely at encouraging voters beyond the border to back the ruling Fidesz party, whose government introduced the law allowing them to vote in the national general election.

Leaders of the Hungarian Diaspora Council issued a joint declaration protesting against DK’s initiative to deprive ethnic Hungarians of their voting rights. The declaration approved by the council’s meeting in Budapest, published on Friday, states that it is unacceptable in a constitutional democracy to arbitrarily withdraw acquired rights. A democratically elected legislative power must not be barred from expanding the community of citizens, especially if the citizens of the mother country and their elected representatives sense close emotional, historical and cultural ties with the recipients of the rights, the declaration says.

Ethnic Hungarians who opted to apply for Hungarian citizenship did so because they maintain deep emotional ties with Hungary and becoming citizens symbolised the strengthening of their Hungarian identity, it added.

The Diaspora Council leaders have called on members of the Hungarian government and the public to clearly express their protest against Gyurcsány’s initiative.

DK said in early October that holders of Hungarian citizenship who have never lived in Hungary should not be allowed to participate in national elections. DK deputy head Ágnes Vadai insisted that “rights and obligations should go hand in hand; no other people should vote than the ones bearing the consequences”. Vadai suggested that the government supported Romania’s ethnic Hungarian community in the hopes of their voting for ruling Fidesz, “as they did” in 2014, at the latest parliamentary election.