As Britain gets nearer to the referendum on making our voting system fairer and improving democratic accountability, it seems odd, to say the least, that another EU country is on the verge of diluting its own democracy. Yet this is exactly what the right-wing Hungarian government, where the ruling Fidesz Party has over two thirds of the seats in the Hungarian parliament, is seeking to do with its bizarre proposal that mothers with small children should have extra votes in elections.
The “Guardian” reported today that the rationale, if it can be called such a thing, for this curious change is that 20 percent of society are children, a considerable group who are left out of representation. Hungarian MEP Jozsef Szajer, who is also a senior Fidesz official, tells us that “The interests of these future generations are not represented in decision making.”
Could this lack of voting rights be because young children are not at a stage in their educational development when they can exercise the franchise? Not according to Mr Szajer, who goes on to say, “We know at first it seems an unusual idea, but in the 50s it was unusual to give votes to black people; 100 years ago it was unusual to give votes to women.”
But it’s not the children who will get the vote under the Fidesz proposals but their parents, an idea first mooted by American demographer Paul Demeny. He put forward a system in 1986 where each parent is given half a vote for each child, a pretty barmy concept by anyone’s standards. The fact that no country has taken up Demeny’s ideas speaks volumes. It’s also interesting that Fidesz initially wanted the new voting rights to be enshrined in the Hungarian constitution but have now backtracked and have, instead, decided to introduce mere legislation.
To make it even worse, the Fidesz plans have sparked fears that the Roma may get increased voting rights. Well, even Fidesz can’t have it all, it seems. Hoist by their own petard is a phrase which comes to mind.
You would have thought the attempt by the Fidesz government to muzzle the media was bad enough. Clearly not. I wonder what will come next…………..