Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Miscellaneous

Can a Two-Tailed Dog Be Allowed Into the Polling Booth?

The Case of Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt Versus Hungary Before the ECtHR

Keywords freedom of speech, elections, ECtHR, democracy, secrecy of votes
Authors János Tamás Papp
Author's information

János Tamás Papp
János Tamás Papp: PhD candidate, research fellow, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; media specialist, Institute for Media Studies of the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      The Hungarian satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt – MKKP) applied to the ECtHR as a result of the decisions rendered by the Hungarian National Electoral Commission, the Curia of Hungary and the Constitutional Court, who ruled that a mobile application developed by the party allowing anonymous users to share their invalid votes violated Hungarian election law. By 16 votes to 1, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR ruled that the Hungarian authorities had violated the Article of the ECHR on freedom of expression. According to the ECtHR’s reasoning, the severe uncertainties about the possible consequences of the legal provisions applied by the domestic authorities went beyond what is permissible under Article 10(2) ECHR. The ECtHR has ruled that a judicial interpretation of a law’s rules does not inherently violate the requirement that laws be written in such a way that the legal implications are predictable. However, since the national law in this case provided for a case-by-case limitation on the expression of an opinion on voting, electoral bodies and national courts that interpreted and enforced these rules enjoyed an excessive amount of discretion. In conclusion, the ECtHR found that legislation restricting freedom of expression must be treated more strictly in connection with electoral procedures: it must not be in any way misleading or inconsistent.

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