Hungarian Citizen Election Report 2024


The 2024 Hungarian Citizen Election Report is a joint initiative of the most prominent Hungarian election-related organisations: 20k, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Mérték Media Monitor, Political Capital, and Unhack Democracy. It aims to provide a credible picture of the European Parliament and local government election process through the eyes and experience of Hungarians, based on the analyses of experts with decades of experience and the personal observations of nearly a thousand poll workers who followed the voting process this year.

Despite the regular presence of international election observers over the past decades and their recommendations based on international democratic standards and treaty obligations, the Hungarian elections fall short of the requirements for free and transparent elections in many respects. Out of a total of close to 100 recommendations made by three different OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions over the past ten years, less than ten, and none of the priority recommendations, have been implemented. Therefore, the observation and analysis of the electoral process is of particular importance for Hungarian experts and for the general public.

On 9 June 2024, more than 4.5 million voters went to the polls to elect the Hungarian members of the European Parliament, mayors of Hungarian municipalities, and local and national minority representatives. There have been significant changes in electoral legislation since the last elections. The most significant of these were the merging of the three types of elections – which used to be on different dates – into a common procedure, and the amendment of the electoral system for Budapest Capital at the end of 2023, the timing of which raises constitutional concerns. Social consultation before legislation remains ineffective. As in the past, several important amendments to election laws were adopted without social consultation.

Campaigning at the national level was characterised by the overwhelming visibility of the ruling parties and the involvement of public resources and third parties in the campaign. There is no legal limit on campaign spending for local, national, and EP elections and campaign financing remains opaque. At the local level, the involvement of municipal resources in the campaign in favour of the incumbent leadership was observed in several municipalities, as well as the encouragement of voters to participate in the electoral process in some municipalities through financial contributions or promises thereof. Campaigning by candidates in public schools and using children remains a common practice. The intertwining of the state and the governing parties gave the ruling parties a particularly strong financial advantage, which significantly distorted the balanced information of voters and tilted the playing field.

The governing parties' messaging was very prominent, almost exclusive in the pro-government media. In the independent media, pro-government narratives were accompanied by voices critical of the government. On social media, pro-government advertisers outspent the total of opposition parties combined by a huge margin, spending an outstanding amount even by European standards. Megafon's high-reach videos, which frame current Hungarian political events according to the Fidesz narrative, played a key role in this. These propaganda videos are presumably indistinguishable from other media content, such as genuine news.

The National Election Office duly fulfilled its statutory duties during the elections. The elected members of election and polling station commissions are chosen by political bodies and the criteria for their selection and election are not transparent. Equal conditions for the exercise of the right to vote by voters residing abroad remain unensured: voters with a registered residence in Hungary can only vote at Hungarian diplomatic representations abroad, while those without a residence can vote by post. In several municipalities, courts found that the constituencies for municipal voters were recently redrawn in violation of the law, and there were several cases of suspected gerrymandering.

The appeals system is not inclusive, as in appealing the rejection of a complaint and in the case of judicial review, the status of being a voter in itself is not sufficient to establish involvement in the case. In addition, the appeals procedures are highly formalised, making them difficult for voters to access. The consequence of the three-day time limit for the examination of electoral appeals is that all evidence and facts must be available when the objection is lodged, and there is no possibility of supplementing the submission or making any corrections.

The Sovereignty Protection Office set up by the Protection of National Sovereignty Act and the election-related amendment to the Criminal Code may have a chilling effect on citizens, civil society organisations, and the media wishing to exercise their fundamental rights. This could lead to a distortion of democratic public life and discourse. Women and Roma citizens continue to be heavily under-represented in the political space.

Election day passed without any major incidents. The issues of vote buying, organised transport of voters, and 'electoral tourism' remain unsolved. Abuses, in particular, voter interference during mobile voting in nursing homes and at polling stations among young people, remain systemic.


The full report is available here (pdf).

A Magyar civil választási jelentés magyar nyelven itt érhető el.


Magyar Helsinki Bizottság - Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Mérték Médiaelemző Műhely - Mérték Media Monitor

Political Capital

Társaság a Szabadságjogokért - Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Unhack Democracy