As an institute committed to the fundamental values of democracy, human rights and free-market economy, Political Capital strives to shape public life not only by the publication of analyses and studies, but through initiatives and a series of proposals aimed at decision-makers as well.
2018. Suspicions aroused before the 2018 general election that foreign residents with a Hungarian citizenship registered addresses in Hungary to be able vote not only on party lists but candidates in single-member constituencies as well. Although a number of independent media outlets reported on some concrete cases (for example, this and this), the extent of irregularities can only be estimated as of now. Therefore, in cooperation with Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), we submitted a public benefit data request for the number of eligible voters registered in all Hungarian settlements in the previous two years to the National Election Office (NVI) and the competent authority of Ministry of Interior even before the general election, on 5 April 2018. The purpose of our request was to gain data allowing us to examine whether there had been a significant increase in the number of eligible voters or not and, if there was such an increase, when it happened. The NVI’s answer revealed that the authority does not have earlier registry data, while the Ministry of Interior essentially denied our request. Thus, HCLU is trying to acquire the data through legal means, but no court date has been set yet.
2018. We prepared a disinformation guideline that does not only call attention to the causes of disinformation, the threats it poses and its potential disseminators but also tries to help readers recognise and argue against fake news. The study entitled How to fight disinformation is available here.
2016. We developed educational packages on radicalism prevention in cooperation with the British Institute for Strategic Dialogue and The Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace. The aim of the educational materials developed in the frames of the partially EU-funded “Extreme Dialogue” project is to point out the consequences of extremist ideologies and prejudices to make these less enticing for the youth.
2016. In the frames of a Norwegian Grants-funded project we examined how non-aggressive and inclusionary public narratives may be strengthened. In cooperation with several other organisations we identified argumentational strategies against extremist dialogues, and we tested these online. The final study summarising the results and conclusions of the project are available here.
2015. In the frames of a European Union programme aimed at preventing hate crime (ISEC) we developed a research methodology to measure political violence. As members of the European Commission’s advisory body on radicalism prevention and best practices (RAN) we regularly formulate proposals for decision-makers.
2015. With the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Joods Humanitarian Fonds we developed a guideline to counter extremist argumentations. Building on the argumentation “catechism” and our studies substantiating it we also produced educational guidelines and a training plan. Based on these works, in 2015 and 2016 we held several trainings for young people in and outside of the school environment on the characteristics of extremist arguments and the possibilities of stepping up against such reasoning. For further information on the catechism and trainings send us a message.
2015. We created an animated infovideo on the state and characteristics of anti-Semitism in Hungary to encourage society to step up and fight against the phenomenon. If fear conquers the nation and we do not combat anti-Semitism; anti-Semites win, while all of Hungarian society and the whole of Hungary loses.
2015. In the frames of the New Pact for Europe project Political Capital organised a public debate and conference on the future of the European Union. Our study connected to the event examines the attitudes of the citizens of the 28 member states on the future of the European Union.
2014. In the frames of a project realised with the support of Open Society Institute we created an infovideo before the EP elections on Russian influence in Europe exerted through European far-right parties, its goals and the threats posed by it to encourage voters to choose parties committed to the EU instead of extremist ones. The video is available in Hungarian, English and French.
2013. Since October 2013, Political Capital in cooperation with Transparency International have been keeping the issue of the distorted system of campaign financing and fielding candidates on the agenda. To prevent the proliferation of fake political parties and the unobservable outflow of taxpayers’ money we formulated numerous proposals to address the problem, which we articulated through press releases, studies, conferences and open letters.
2013. On 6 May four civil society organisations (Eörvös Károly Institute, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Civic Liberties Union, Transparency International Hungary) formulated a joint proposal package regarding the amendment of the electoral law. A few weeks later the majority of our recommendations on publishing data for public benefit, opportunities to substantively monitor the voter registry and mail-in votes were added to the legislative text. The details of the initiative and its evaluation can be read here.
2013. With the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, we wrote a study outlining the relation of young people to democracy and unveiling the reasons behind the low level of commitment to democracy. Based on the study, we formulated proposals and recommendations for the political and civilian spheres to strengthen the democratic commitment of young citizens.
2010-2011. Building on European Social Survey data, we developed our Demand for Right-Wing Extremism Index (DEREX) measuring society’s demand for right-wing extremism in more than 30 countries, which has been used and quoted by numerous Hungarian and foreign social researchers since then. We publish updated DEREX values every two years. Detailed data and analyses based on them are available on our website for professionals.
2010. We encouraged cooperation between Slovakian and Hungarian political analysts to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
2009. Political Capital was the first in the region to warn about the pro-Russian attitudes of Eastern European far-right parties.
2009. In October, in cooperation with four other organisations we jointly called for a reform of the system of fielding candidates. The post-2010 system did not remedy data protection issues, because political parties continue to handle the personal information of voters through recommendation sheets, which replaced the formerly used recommendation coupons. In addition, with the introduction of the unmonitored spending of campaign funding and allowing voters to recommend multiple candidates, the forging of recommendation sheets became prevalent. The previous, atrocious system was replaced by another atrocious system. Our detailed description of the distorted system of fielding candidates and campaign financing is available here (page 65 onwards).
2009. Political Capital turned to the competent electoral committees regarding the by-election in Ferencváros, then turned to a court to raise an objection against the voter registry to focus the public’s attention on the disproportionality of single-member constituencies. In connection to the insufficient level of the legislation regulating constituency borders, we requested the Constitutional Court to perform a subsequent constitutionality review, the result of which (and other requests) was that the Constitutional Court not only repealed the law on the division of single-member constituencies – which had been unchanged since 1990 -, but annulled the so-called authorisation clause that allowed the government in power to assign the borders of constituencies. Our press release regarding this is available here. The new electoral law promulgated on 23 December, 2011 temporarily freed the National Assembly from the burden of this constitutional failure, however, it does not guarantee that the disproportionalities reproduced as a result of the movements of the Hungarian population will be addressed. You can read about the long-term threat of constitutional failure in our April 2012 study entitled Féluton a választási reform [Electoral reform is halfway done].
2008-2009. In cooperation with the Hungarian Anti-Racism Foundation, Political Capital mapped the social and organisational background of the Hungarian far-right. In our studies entitled Látlelet 2008 and Látlelet 2009 we formulated proposals for social actors (civil society organisations, educational actors, media, political parties, legislators and law enforcers) to confine extremist ideologies.
2008. In November, we published an open letter addressed to MPs to remedy the constitutional failure in connection to voting in Hungarian foreign representations, and to prevent Hungarian citizens from losing their acquired rights to vote abroad. In August 2009, we dealt with problem (which is the result of the vote being held in foreign representations a week before the election took place in Hungary, thus, those who were in Hungary a week before the election, but abroad at the day of the election lost their right to vote) in detail in our electoral audit. We also formulated proposals to solve the problem, but the National Assembly did not take action. Since the laws regulating voting in foreign representations would have expired on 31 December, 2009, the parliament only acted in the last moment to keep the unconstitutional rules in place. You can read about in detail here. The post-2010 electoral system consisting of only one round made it pointless to hold the elections in foreign representations a week earlier, the new electoral law states voting should take place at the same time everywhere in the world, which remedies the constitutional problem, even though the costly system built on travelling voting booths was kept in place instead of the introduction of electronic voting. However, a new issue was introduced. Mail-in voting is allowed for Hungarian citizens living abroad without an address registered in Hungary, but not for citizens staying abroad on the day of the elections, which breaches fundamental right despite that the Constitutional Court – with a minimal majority and a peculiar argumentation – decided the law was not unconstitutional.
2008. We supported Transparency International’s initiative to make transparency laws on taxpayers’ money more efficient.
2008. We formulated a detailed proposal on changing laws on the right to free assembly. The goal of the initiative was to clarify that authorising protests is a political responsibility and prevent the inclusion of the police in daily political debates.
2008. Political Capital and Századvég Foundation formulated a joint proposal to rethink and re-regulate the institution of referendums and its political use. Our joint proposal set out the problems resulting from the role the political class perceives itself to be in (rethinking the institution of referendums), and it proposed legislative amendments that would not have required the Constitution to be modified (re-regulating the institution of referendums). Some of the proposed changes have since been implemented. You can read about the post-2010 reform of the institution of referendums in detail here.
2007. Political Capital warned about the noticeable similarities between the actions of the Hungarian Guard and other far-right brigades operating in the region. We brought the attention of legislators and law enforcement agencies to the marked similarities between the Bulgarian and Hungarian Guards.
2007. We started a research programme to map problems in the areas of fundamental rights and inequality. The aim of the programme was to call the public’s attention to problems that are disadvantageous to both the electorate and political actors, but could be remedied relatively easily with amendments to existing legislation. As a consequence of the programme, we formulated several proposals for decision-makers. We called for amendments to the electoral law due to the disproportionality of single-member constituencies and the establishment of an independent body that would re-examine the borders of single-member constituencies every 8-10 years. The backgrounder dealing with these and other problems (such as the situation of women and discrimination against people with disabilities), which includes the proposals as well, can be found here; the press material is here.
2007. Political Capital jointly with several other organisations participated in a campaign entitled Party Financing Strategy to establish a transparent party and campaign financing system.
2006. Political Capital was among the first to warn in its analyses that the then-reorganising far-right in the CEE region would build its political strategy on anti-Roma sentiment. The first deadly attack in the series of Roma murders committed in Hungary happened in Nagycsécs on 3 November, 2008. Later it became obvious that these crimes were founded in heightening ethnic tensions. Political Capital – solely on the basis of publicly available information – had continuously been warning about the dangers since late 2006.
2006. We launched an initiative to abolish the campaign silence period and the ban on publishing public opinion polls. The campaign silence could not be enforced in reality, while the ban on publishing public opinion polls breached citizens’ right of access to information and, in addition, it led to severe inequalities. Our backgrounder is available here. The proposal has partly been implemented since then. The duration of the ban on publishing public opinion polls was first shortened and Act XXXVI. Of 2013 on Electoral Procedure (Ve.) abolished it. As part of the local elections reform in 2010 the length of the campaign silence period was cut to one day, and with the promulgation of the new Ve. it was practically abolished.
2005. Political Capital published a regularly updated list of agents on its website. The aim of the initiative was to spread knowledge on how the communist dictatorship worked, and to encourage the National Assembly to adopt a pro-publicity law that would ensure that the recent past could be researched freely and studies about it could be published freely.