In a move that would be unprecedented in a modern democracy, Hungary's new government is considering giving mothers with small children extra votes in elections.
The conservative Fidesz party has made several controversial decisions since coming to power on a populist rightwing agenda, including a crackdown on the media, but the latest proposal could prove to be its most contentious.
"Some 20% of society are children," said József Szájer, a senior Fidesz official and MEP. "This is quite a considerable group that is left out of representation. The interests of these future generations are not represented in decision-making." He added: "We know at first it seems an unusual idea, but in the 50s it was unusual to give votes to black people; 100 years ago, it was unusual to give votes to women."
The party initially inserted the provision into a new permanent constitution expected to be approved on Monday, but after polling showed the public divided on the idea because of concerns Roma families would get additional votes, party officials opted instead for legislation.
Szájer said he was inspired by the work of the American demographer Paul Demeny, who developed the concept in 1986. Under Demeny Voting, each parent is given half a vote for each child, permitting a split vote in the event that the parents have differing political loyalties. "The aim is to continue the debate and increase support for the idea..."
The discourse on Demeny Voting first emerged in Germany and Japan in the 2000s as a solution to concerns that policy development is biased in favour of the elderly rather than young families.