Hungarian elections 2022 in Ukrainian Zakarpattia: no campaign and less than 6,000 votes – but with Russian disinformation
The main and official part of the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary election campaign coincided with the preparations and launch of Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Despite the fact that Ukraine and the Russian invasion became a key topic of the parliamentary campaign in Hungary in 2022, public attention to the Hungarian elections in Ukraine was extremely low, primarily and naturally due to Russian military build-up leading to the full-scale invasion on 24 February.
Unlike previous election campaigns, 2018 in particular, when the participation of Transcarpathian Hungarians in Hungarian elections became one of the topics of political debate and journalistic investigations both in Ukraine and Hungary, this year's election campaign drew no public attention.
According to the monitoring results there was almost no campaigning and mobilization as such among Hungarians in Ukraine – both offline, for example, rallies or door-to-door activities, and online, in the form of publications, political advertisement in the local Hungarian-language media. However, mobilization was organized and conducted through the media and social networks outside of Ukraine, from Hungary. Hungarian media have a high level of penetration among the Hungarian community of Ukraine, which lives along the Ukrainian-Hungarian border within the Transcarpathian region.
Officially, 5,840 people with Hungarian passports (as second citizenship) voted at the Hungarian consulates in Uzhhorod and Berehove. This number is only about 0.06 (or about 6%) of the votes needed to win one seat in the Hungarian parliament.
Simultaneously with the election campaign in Hungary, as well as preparation and launching of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia organized and conducted a series of hostile disinformation operations on Ukrainian-Hungarian relations. They were implemented from October 2021 to April 2022. Key narratives of these campaigns are "Hungarians in Ukraine are constantly oppressed by the state and nationalists", "Transcarpathian Hungarians want to separate from Ukraine and join Hungary", "Orban is ready to deploy special forces in Transcarpathia to protect local Hungarians", "Ukraine is preparing for military defense of Transcarpathia from Hungary", etc.
Institute for Central European Strategy
"Election Monitoring in Hungary and its Diaspora" research is conducted with the support of the International Republican Institute's Beacon Project. It is conducted in Hungary and select countries with a significant Hungarian diaspora: Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not reflect those of IRI.