Votes of the poor - public works and the perils of clean elections


It is patently clear: the poor are defenseless, and defenseless people are more likely to become the victims of election fraud. In Hungary public works schemes involving hundreds of thousands may increase these odds: while in the short term state-funded programs available for the unemployed and administered by municipalities may offer a slightly better life than welfare, they also create a one-sided dependence between citizens and local politicians.

As part of their joint project (supported by the Open Society Institute Budapest Foundation), Átlátszó, K-Monitor, Political Capital (PC) and Transparency International Hungary looked at the potential correlation between public employment and election results. To answer the question two parallel and mutually supplementary methods were applied: a statistical analysis, among others, of election and public employment data helped fact-finding fieldwork, while on-site experience has generated additional research criteria. In other words, both the topic and the method are novel, and initial results tend to confirm the hypothesis: the higher the rate of public employment in a given settlement, the more likely that the governing parties sweep the elections.

It is important to note that as we are talking about a statistical correlation, the findings of the study cannot be taken as evidence of any election fraud. Our study aims to promote further research into a potential connection between poverty and election abuse.

You can read the study in Hungarian here.

You can read the English summary of the study here.