Number of Hungarians abroad registered to vote:
- Expats in the west (11% pro-Orbán): 62 thousand out of more than half a million
- Ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries (96% pro-Orbán): 456 thousand out of 770 thousand
There are two kinds of Hungarians living abroad.
- Expats – living anywhere in the world, mostly in the west. They have ties to Hungary and very often Hungarian addresses.
- Ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries. Most of them have never lived in Hungary and are unlikely to have registered addresses here.
The latter group has never lived in Hungary as a rule and has no address there, but it still a perennial target of domestic politicians. Orbán managed to woo them with targeted funds and a million Hungarian passports and now they are considered to be his voters with over 96% supporting Orbán according to 2018 results.
Expats may have been born in Hungary, have family and even permanent addresses here, many of them plan to return if circumstances change – but they are the foster children of Hungarian politics these days as they are less likely to vote for Orbán. Many have escaped involuntarily, due to economic or political pressure under the Orbán regime. Only 11% of them is expected to vote for Orbán while 47% is staunchly against him.
The two groups will face massively different hurdles at the 2022 elections.
Those who don’t have Hungarian addresses (that means mostly the ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries) are able to just vote through the regular mail or even request activists to register them and to collect their votes. (The voting has already started and it is difficult to find a single place where it is not fraudulent or biased.)
Expats, on the other hand are forced to vote in person in their host countries. Again, this is the punishment for having an address in Hungary and actual ties to the country. But casting their votes in person often means hundreds of kilometers of travel on a Sunday, maybe even a night at a hotel or childcare, etc.
In the United Kingdom (over 350 thousand registered Hungarians – i.e. not yet citizens) one has to travel to London, Edinburgh or Manchester in order to vote. In Germany, where 220 thousand Hungarians are officially registered they have Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Nürnberg to choose from. In comparison, Romanians living in Germany had 80 voting stations in 50 different cities to choose from in 2020.
Unsurprisingly, expats were less likely to even register to vote with these conditions. Out of more than half a million expats (a very, very conservative estimate) only 58 thousand have registered to vote in 2018 – and not all of them made it to the voting stations. In 2022 only 62 thousand registered, despite the massive mobilization by the opposition parties. They will have to travel to the capital cities of their host countries on Sunday and queue outside the embassy building.
Out of the similarly sized group of eligible voters among Hungarian passport holders in neighboring countries, on the other hand, 456 thousand were registered to vote. Only 10 percent of them plans to do it in person, at the embassy, the rest will vote via mail or just let a local activist collect their mail votes.