BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A top Hungarian court dealt the ruling party a blow Friday by striking down key provisions in a new electoral law that critics say skewed the democratic process in the government's favor.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the Fidesz Party's attempts to require voters to register for next year's elections and ban campaign advertising on commercial TV were illegal. The opposition alleged that the electoral law mainly benefited the governing Fidesz Party, whose extensive network of activists would make it easier for it to sign up voters. Fidesz opponents also said limits on campaign advertising would block a key avenue for the opposition to get out its message.
In rejecting the voter registration requirement, the Constitutional Court said that Hungary already had a well-functioning database of citizens that has been used as an electoral roster for decades. Fidesz plans to submit a revised electoral bill in February.
The party has been considering modifying the Constitution to include the voter registration requirement. But for now Prime Minister Viktor Orban's party said it would refrain from using its unassailable two-thirds majority for that purpose.
"We have the possibility of amending the Constitution ... to ensure constitutional protection for registration," said Antal Rogan, head of the Fidesz parliamentary group. "The two-thirds majority has the political strength for this ... but strength isn't everything."
From the next elections, scheduled for around April 2014, the number of lawmakers will be reduced from the current 386 to 199 and there will be just one round of voting instead of two.