OSCE plans to send larger team of election observers to Hungary | world news

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recommends sending a larger team to observe Hungary’s April 3 parliamentary elections, including monitoring the media, the OSCE said on Friday. .

Europe’s top security and rights watchdog said in a report on its website that in addition to a core team of analysts, it plans to deploy 18 long-term observers to monitor the nationwide electoral process and 200 short-term observers to follow the vote on election day. . The OSCE only sent small, limited observation missions for the last Hungarian elections in 2018, 2014 and 2010.

Since his landslide election victory in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has transformed Hungary into a so-called “illiberal democracy”. Controls over the media and civil society groups have put Budapest at loggerheads with the European Union.

On April 3, 58-year-old Orban faces a close race against united opposition against him for the first time. His ruling party, Fidesz, has a slight lead over the opposition alliance in the latest opinion polls.

The OSCE said in its report that aspects of the election that could benefit from further assessment included “voter registration, campaigning, including possible voter intimidation and vote buying, media coverage of elections, transparency of campaign finances, and the effectiveness of the complaints and appeals process”.

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He said that during his talks, representatives of state institutions “expressed their full willingness to conduct the elections in accordance with the law, and welcomed ODIHR’s observation.”

“The media environment includes a large number of media outlets and is characterized by significant polarization and increasing concentration of ownership,” the OSCE said.

He said that the majority of Hungarian stakeholders he spoke to for his report said that “these circumstances distort media pluralism, the independence of editorial policies and offer a limited diversity of viewpoints, in particular in rural areas”.

The Hungarian government denies this.

“The reality is that the diversity and balanced nature of the Hungarian media is a plus point compared to what we can see in Western Europe,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told Reuters in emailed comments this week.

The Foreign Ministry said last month that it was hosting OSCE observers during the elections, adding that the OSCE had complete independence in determining the scope of its mission.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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