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More than 600,000 Hungarians could be living in other EU countries

Around 600,000 Hungarians could be living abroad according to data compiled by economic news website portfolio.hu, substantially more than previous estimates. TheseHungarian citizens might only be able to register to vote in spring's general election as late as March 18, reports Magyar Nemzet.

The news portal acknowledges that no database exists which measures intra-EU migration, thus settling on a reliable estimate of Hungarians abroad is quite difficult. While several such estimates have been prepared by other publications and by Hungary's Central Statistical Office, the data is often several years old and is compiled via differing methods among various EU countries, making an accurate figure even less likely.

Additionally, such figures do not take into account people working illegally in other EU Member States. The data also does not reflect commuters who work in neighboring countries such as Austria and, to a lesser degree, Slovakia.

Taking these factors into account, portfolio.hu contacted each of the EU Member States directly for official statistics on how many Hungarians lived in those countries. The survey deliberately left out neighboring countries Slovakia, Romania and Slovenia due to large numbers of Hungarian minorities born in those countries, which would have distorted the data. Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal either did not answer requests for data, or were unable to provide statistics.

According to the data (translations from top to bottom: Germany, France, UK, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Greece, Finland, Luxembourg, Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania), some 570,000 Hungarians are living abroad in other EU countries.

But several elements of the data appear unrealistically distorted, according to portfolio.hu. For example, 146,000 Hungarians living in France appears to be such a significant exaggeration that the news portal considered the figure a technical error. The estimate of Hungarians residing in the UK also appeared at first glance to be unrealistically low.

After making corrections to the data based on other data sets (from eurostat, for example), the final probable number of Hungarians living in the EU was pushed slightly above 600,000.

While ethnic Hungarian dual-citizens in neighboring countries can register to vote without limitations and automatically remain in the register for ten years, Hungarian citizens who have a permanent residence in Hungary but are working or living abroad must register on every voting occasion, and have only a 70- to 90-day time frame to do so. Hungarian citizens who work in Hungary and have a permanent residence in the country are automatically added to the register.

According to the election law, Hungarians working abroad have 70 to 90 days preceding the date of the election to register to vote, once the President has set the election date. Because of obligatory registration and the fact that they can only vote at embassies and consulates that are often hundreds of kilometers away from their residence, very few Hungarians who live abroad have registered in previous elections. Out of the approximately 330,000 Hungarian citizens who lived in European countries in 2014, according to the Central Statistical Office's calculations, only some 24,119 chose to vote in that year's general election.

Reacting to criticism of the government's discrimination against voters living abroad – who are usually far less supportive of the government than ethnic Hungarians beyond the border – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced at a meeting Monday that the Ministry has opened 20 new diplomatic missions since 2014, and plans to open subsidiary diplomatic offices in cities that have a high number of Hungarian inhabitants. Szíjjártó listed Edinburgh and Manchester as examples of such subsidiary offices but did not say when these could be expected to open.

Source: portfolio.hu; mno.hu; budapestbeacon.com

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 September 2017 15:13

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