THE new year has not started well for Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist prime minister. On January 4th the Constitutional Court threw out his plan to redesign the electoral system.
The court ruled that a new electoral law requiring voters to pre-register before the next general election (likely to take place in the spring of 2014) was unconstitutional. The law required voters to register online, a cumbersome and bureaucratic process, or in person, at least two weeks beforehand. The court said that only voter registration for ethnic Hungarians outside the borders, some 370,000 of whom have applied for citizenship, was legal. The court also struck down restrictions on campaign advertising in the run-up to the vote.
Critics said the law discriminated against the poor, many of whom do not have access to the internet, are suspicious of officialdom, and are more likely to vote for the opposition. The government denied this and said the law was needed to update the electoral register. Yet it swiftly conceded defeat.