The lie about gerrymandering

In line with the Reding-strategy, the so-called “left liberal” opposition, together with their influential and rich foreign supporters in the global media, keeps repeating that the expected electoral victory of Fidesz will  be “less a reflection of public opinion than the result of new election rules the controversial PM used to gerrymander districts in order to make the vote a slam-dunk for his center-right Fidesz party“.  See, for example, also this article.

Some economic analysts, probably with a vested interest in the victory of the postcommunist/left liberal forces  which “aim toward market-friendly policies”, such as Mujtaba Rahman, Practice Head & Director, Europe at Eurasia Group also casually drop remarks like “Moreover, Fidesz has gerrymandered several individual districts”.

Hungary’s Constitutional Court found it unconstitutional about ten years ago that sometimes  2.5 times more votes were needed to win an MP seat in some rural districts than in some Budapest ones. (The election districts were drawn in 1989 by the last Communist goverment!). Nothing  happened to fix this until Fidesz redrew the election districts in the new election system which decreases the previously insanely high (399) number of MPs, a feature of Hungary’s political system also inherited from the Communist dictatorship,  to 199 MPs at last.  The reader must also know that Budapest was a surefire election bastion of the “left liberals” until about 2008.

Why didn’t the so-called “progressive forces”, who were in government between 2002 and 2010, try to do anything to comply with the Constitutional Court sentence which called for eliminating this serious democratic deficiency?  Knowing the previous undeniable fact, that’s a rhetorical question, of course.

Let’s see a statistical analysis about the  electoral districts,  “before and after” the change.

Population distribution before the change in the old 176 districts

The intense orange colour means large over-representation  compared to the average, that is 57,000 voters in a district, and the intense blue colour means large under-representation.

Population distribution after the change in the new 106 districts

The new districts are very obviously much more balanced than the old ones and the statistical analysis, the raw numbers you can find on the referenced page   also confirm this.

A sure sign of gerrymandering is the presence of weird shapes.

The iconic salamander shape


Show me a single odd-shaped election district like that on Hungary’s new electoral map, please.



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  1. Géza

     /  03/04/2014

    Leto, do you know what system was used before 1945?

    • Roughly speaking.. Hungary was a limited parliamentary democracy between the two world wars. The Parliament consisted of an Upper House consisting of hereditary peerage, high priests, etc. and the legislative Lower House. Besides the Upper House, the Governor may have rejected a law within limits, too. The Lower House was elected by secret ballot in the large cities but only for party lists. Then there was “open voting” in the countryside both for party lists and individual candidates. The ones who had an “érettségi” (roughly “A-levels”) were considered “gentlemen” and they could automatically vote. However there were certain income restrictions imposed for the voting rights of the uneducated, possibly illiterate… Women could vote from 1920.

      Communists were outlawed in the Kingdom of Hungary after their deeds in 1919 but the Social Democrat party was a strong opposition party in most of the era. The agrarian Smallholders’ Party (FKGP) was another opposition party Then far right/Arrow Cross were also in opposition… until the occupying German troops installed Szálasi’s government in power. The ruling parties were centre-of-right (in terms of those times) or right-wing between 1920 and 1944.

      • Géza

         /  03/04/2014

        Thanks a lot, Leto! This was helpfull.

        • I found the exact criteria for the eligibility for voting here:

          I must correct myself, they were more lenient.

          • Angela Bogazcy

             /  04/04/2014

            Leto, it has always seemed to me that pre-1945 parliamentary system in Hungary was, mutatis mutandis, very closely comparable with the British situation between 1919 and 1928: Both countries had a hereditary upper house peopled by the high-ranking aristocracy (in Hungary, only counts; in Britain barons and higher), who were the overseers of the lower house legislature. Britain had universal male suffrage, with only criminals serving sentences excluded. Female suffrage was restricted to women over 30. Horthy’s Hungary had light means/property restrictions (very small business and/or real estate ownership sufficed for eligibility to vote, as did military, civil and ecclesiastic service), and there was some age restriction (no sex restriction). In other words, we were a bit tardy with universal suffrage (Britain introduced it in 1928), but very little kept us short of it.

            • Angela Bogazcy

               /  05/04/2014

              I forgot to say: Your article is superb. Those three maps, and your explanatory remarks, really should get broad publicity. The ‘gerrymander’ lie’ about the new districts really is too insolent. And ‘they’ fill the global press with it. We should all get the link to this article out there, in as many papers as possible.

              • Géza

                 /  05/04/2014

                I agree!!

              • Thanks but my post is really just reporting about someone else’s hard statistical work, available in Hungarian only. But please feel free to link to my post so that it would get some international coverage.


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