As long expected, Hungary is about to get a new electoral system, which will include a sharply reduced assembly size. The current system, in use since 1990, has been a mixed-member majoritarian (MMM) system, with partial compensation. Not enough compensation to make it MMP–seats are allocated in parallel, but with unused votes from the nominal tier augmenting the party list votes prior to list-tier allocation. In fact, the evolution of party behavior showed just how much the fundamentally majoritarian nature of the system shaped incentives.
The new system will remain MMM, but perhaps even more so. The following details come from Alan Renwick (of the University of Reading, and one of the leading experts on electoral-system change). Alan has generously agreed to be referenced here.
The assembly size will drop from 386 to 199.* The nominal tier will continue to consist of single-seat districts. However, the formula for these districts will now be plurality, rather than two-round majority-plurality. This tier will amount to 106 seats, or 53.3% of the total.**
The list tier will be one nationwide district, unlike the current system which actually has two tiers of list allocation (regional and national). These 93 seats will continue to be elected from closed lists. As Alan explains:
For the distribution of the list seats, both the list votes and the remainder votes from SMDs are added together, where remainder votes are votes for losing candidates and votes for winning candidates after subtraction of the second-placed candidate’s votes. Seats are then distributed by d’Hondt, subject to a 5% threshold. There are also special provisions for minorities.
For nominations in the single-seat districts, the number of signatures needed is doubled from 750 to 1500,*** even though the increase in the size of these districts is much less than this.
Alan also offers two links, in Hungarian.
This change of the electoral system is in the context of a new constitution, which takes effect on the 1st of January. I previously branded this constitutional reform process as de-facto authoritarian. Alan also recommends a blog entry by Kim Lane Scheppele, who notes that the new constitution also contains a major attack on the independence of the judiciary, the Election Commission, and the electoral district boundary delimitation process.
Thanks, Alan, for this information!
As for Hungary, these are all very troubling developments. In fact, the electoral system change may be the least troubling of this set of changes.
* As the first-linked F&V item above discussed, Hungary has had a significantly “oversized” parliament. The Cube Root Rule would suggest an assembly size of around 200 to 215, or right about where they have now settled.
** Previously the nominal tier was 176 seats out of the total 386, or 45.6%.
*** In the final version of the law, the number was set at 1000, as noted in Alan Renwick’s overview.