Viktor Orbán claims victory in Hungarian refugee vote

Written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 3 October 2016 in News
News

However, controversial referendum fails to garner 50 per cent turnout to be valid.

Viktor Orbán | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has claimed victory in a referendum on whether or not to accept mandatory EU quotas for taking in refugees, with 98 per cent of voters rejecting the plans laid out by Brussels. However, the result of the plebiscite has been voided, voter turnout having failed to pass the 50 per cent threshold.

Orbán himself acknowledged that "a valid referendum is always better than an invalid referendum", but said the result still gave him a mandate to "ensure that we should not be forced to accept in Hungary people we don’t want to live with" when he next meets with EU leaders.

The Prime Minister hoped that other member states would follow suit and hold similar referenda.


RELATED CONTENT


Reaction from EU policymakers was swift, with the Chair of the European Parliament's 189-strong S&D group, Gianni Pittella, commenting, "The whole of Europe has won. Populism and xenophobia have lost. Orbán's lies have come up against a brick wall. The wall of hatred, lies and razor wire Orbán has built up to block refugees fleeing war is hopefully starting to fall down. The migration crisis needs a long term European answer based on solidarity and shared responsibility.

"We congratulate the majority of the Hungarian citizens who decided to stay at home and to truly act democratically by not playing Orbán's dirty games, making this referendum invalid."

Belgian Liberal MEP and head of Parliament's ALDE group Guy Verhofstadt, said the Hungarian Prime Minister had "lost his bet". 

"Hungarians have showed they don't support and will not follow populist, xenophobic and racist policies," he said, adding, "The solution to the refugee crisis is not hatred or fear; we need a humane, common European response."

Tamás Meszerics, a Hungarian member of the Parliament's Greens/EFA group, was pleased that, "Despite an extremely aggressive propaganda campaign, a majority of the Hungarian electorate did not cast a valid vote. Even in the face of a hate-mongering campaign, the majority resisted, offering some of hope in what is an otherwise deeply regrettable result."

His colleague Benedek Jávor added, "The real threat to the European Union is not migrants but the irresponsible approach of member states. It is extremely worrying that some member states are actively seeking to undermine EU solidarity for internal political games, and the way the Hungarian government has approached today’s referendum is a prime example of this."

The EPP group in the European Parliament - which Orbán's Fidesz party is affiliated to - has remained tight lipped on the result.

About the author

Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist for the Parliament Magazine

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.

 

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Related Partner Content

The foundation of modern Bahrain
14 February 2019

Bahrain’s National Action Charter laid the foundations of the nation as a representative democracy and constitutional monarchy

Preventing radicalisation in schools
9 March 2017

We shouldn’t forget the importance of empowering educators in the fight against radicalisation, argue Alexandra Korn and Alexander Ritzmann.

Refugee Integration in Europe: good practices and challenges
16 May 2018

The EU has a duty to protect refugees from exploitation, while preserving the values upon Europe’s  democratic societies are built, argues Tommaso Virgili.