Today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Bakirdzi and E.C. v. Hungary (application nos. 49636/14 and 65678/14) concerned the voting rights of the applicants, registered as national-minority voters for the 2014 parliamentary elections in Hungary.
The European Court of Human Rights found that the system that had been put in place to ensure the political representation of national minorities in Hungary had ended up limiting their political effectiveness and threatened to reduce, rather than enhance, diversity and the participation of minorities in political decision-making. It also doubted that a system in which a vote could be cast only for a specific closed list of candidates (i.e. without the possibility of expressing a preference for (a) particular candidate(s)), and which required voters to abandon their party affiliations in order to have representation as a member of a minority ensured “the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”.
The Court held, unanimously, that the combination of restrictions on the applicants’ voting rights had constituted a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No.1 to the Convention (right to free elections) taken in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
A legal summary of this case will be available in the Court’s database HUDOC.