Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law


An Attempt to Achieve a Noble Aim through Inadequate Means

Analysis of the ECtHR Judgment in Bakirdzi and E.C. versus Hungary

Keywords preferential mandate, list of national minorities, secrecy of the vote, right to vote, Bakirdzi and E.C
Authors Gábor Kurunczi
Author's information

Gábor Kurunczi
Gábor Kurunczi: associate professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; National University of Public Service, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      The present study deals with the judgment of the ECtHR concerning the rule of national minorities’ representation in Hungarian parliamentary elections and the conclusions that may be drawn from it. It tries to answer the question whether Hungarian legislation is compatible with the requirements of the ECHR, and whether the ECtHR’s reasoning in the present case adds up to a logical and coherent system. The judgment of the ECtHR raises a number of questions regarding the specific part of the Hungarian parliamentary electoral system that affects national minorities. The critical analysis of the judgment shall be divided into two main parts: first, the reasoning of the judgment dealing with discrimination, and second, the part of the judgment that finds a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1. to the ECHR. The signatory state was condemned for three reasons: (i) because of the impossibility to obtain a mandate (the low number of seats), (ii) due to the prohibition to also vote on party lists in the same election, and (iii) because of the breach of the secrecy of the vote. Based on the analysis of the above aspects, this study concludes that the ECtHR – despite minor or major errors of reasoning in its judgment – correctly highlighted the problems inherent in the relevant part of the Hungarian legislation, namely, the difficulties and anomalies surrounding national minorities in obtaining seats in parliament. Thus, while an amendment of these rules is undoubtedly necessary, it remains a question which direction this change will take.

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