This article was published online by the Magyar Nemzet on 28 March 2022.
On March 24, a team of election observers from four nations (Polish, Bulgarian, Croatian, Spanish) including researchers, representatives from NGOs, lawyers, and the press arrived to Hungary in a mission organized by the Polish conservative Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture and the Collegium Intermarium of Warsaw. They will be meeting with representatives of election administration, media, civil society and the political parties in the time leading up to April 3rd. They will be speaking with staff from RTL Klub, M1, TV2, 444.hu and Átlátszó to get an authentic understanding of the situation in Hungary. Later of course they will also be closely following the elections.
This is the second phase of their observation mission. In the first, they closely examined the legal framework of Hungarian electoral processes, the situation of the media, and the interim election report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The international election observers came to the conclusion that the OSCE materials violate the principles of such missions in many respects; it is often biased and inaccurate. They list five such basic, violated principles:
- Impartiality and non-interference
- Accuracy and verifiability of conclusions
- Compliance with domestic law and culture
- Neutrality and professionalism in media appearances
- Formulation of recommendations, not accusations
In connection with the first point, they highlighted that “International election observers should never exhibit any personal bias or preference related to issues which may have political or electoral implications and should abstain from doing any political, partisan activity.” Moreover, observers should be
especially careful that they do not make any statements public in the days before the election that could sway results. They also pointed out that:
“The [OSCE] publication was immediately weaponized by one side of the political struggle as evidence of international criticism of their political competitors.”
The first sentence is biased
The first sentence of the OSCE document is biased, heeding no attention to this principle. Instead of referring to the “child protection act” by its full name, they use this informal title in a completely unprofessional manner. “This statement is tantamount to saying that the law is only called this way, when in reality it aims at something else.” They use this same style, and make the author’s (or the entire commission’s) opinion obvious in making judgements about female representation in the system and on their comments on the rule of law debate between Hungary and the European Union.
The OSCE also repeatedly committed the same biased errors:
“Additionally, there is a visible tendency in the report to quote unsubstantiated opinions of “interlocutors”, which are invariably critical of the government, without providing the counterbalancing opinion of the opponents, or a clarification why this may be the case.”
As an example, it is noted that Hungary has largely ignored the recommendations of previous OSCE reports, but there is no detailed explanation as to how, what extent or why.
According to them, if a respondent has a positive opinion on the government, this is often followed by a negative opinion. For example, “while most interlocutors expressed confidence in the accuracy of the voter register, some raised concerns…”
Only negative opinions
But actually, there are barely any positive examples of the government.
“Negative unsubstantiated opinions of the anonymous “interlocutors” were invoked at least 8 times in the document, while positive opinions are hardly present.”
Moreover, their interviews are unclear and do not offer any concrete specifications on who they asked or what their party affiliation is.
The international observation team also called attention to the fact that the OSCE report “was widely disseminated in the press, with numerous headlines repeatedly indicating that, according to the report, only one, currently ruling party is favored in the election process.”
“According to international standards, international observers cannot interfere in the election process, express any bias or preference in relation to national authorities, parties, candidates, or with reference to any issues of contention in the election process.”
Overall, they determined that according to the aforementioned reasons, the OSCE document violates principles of impartiality and therefore can be considered an international attempt to intervene in the Hungarian elections.