Hungary’s Orban asked to resign after void referendum

A referendum in Hungary produced almost unanimous opposition to the migrant quotas proposed by the EU, but is rendered invalid because of low turnout.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is one of the toughest opponents of immigration in the EU.

Hungary’s opposition Jobbik party called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to step down on Monday, a day after a referendum on rejecting European Union migrant quotas was declared void due to low voter turnout.

Sunday’s referendum produced almost unanimous opposition to European Union quotas on migrants.

Nearly 98 percent of those who took part backed the government's call to reject the plan.

However, the vote was rendered invalid as the turnout fell well short of a 50 percent threshold.

Voter turnout fell well short of a 50 percent threshold.

Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona said Orban has weakened Hungary’s status in Europe with the void referendum which he describes as a fiasco that offered a “trump card” to the European Union.

"Since yesterday you (Orban) have become a failed politician... You will not be taken seriously by Brussels bureaucrats," Vona said in parliament on Monday.

You need to resign, like David Cameron did, as is the norm in European politics.

"Brussels will ruthlessly exploit your irresponsibility and mistake," he added.

Orban has been in power since 2010.

The referendum has been seen as an attempt by Orban to revolt against the centralization of EU power.

Orban, a right-wing populist, has challenged against the EU's refugee policy, leading resistance to the stance taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has said EU states have an obligation to share the burden of taking in refugees.

He argued that allowing the influx of larger numbers of Muslim migrants into Europe threatens Hungary and Europe's Christian identity and culture.

In September 2015, European leaders voted on a plan to distribute 160,000 migrants across the block. The plan requires Hungary to take in 1,294 asylum seekers.

Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia voted against the measure.

Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

Under fire from opposition, Orban said on Monday he would amend the constitution to ensure the EU cannot settle migrants in Hungary after the referendum even though it is legally void.

Orban told parliament the referendum had achieved its goal as more Hungarians, some 3.28 million, repudiated the migrant quotas than had voted for EU membership in a 2003 referendum.

He said one million more voters supported his government's policy now than voted for his Fidesz party in the 2014 parliamentary election.

"This decision, this support obliges me to act on it," Orban said.

"Fidesz and the Christian Democratic Party believe the appropriate, honest and necessary step is to give legal weight to the will of the people ... Therefore, I am initiating an amendment to the constitution," he said, without elaborating.

Hungary built razor-wire fences on its border with Serbia and Croatia.

In 2015, around 400,000 migrants passed through Hungary while making their way toward Western Europe.

The numbers have reduced after the country built razor-wire fences on its border with Serbia and Croatia.

So far, the country has granted asylum to 508 refugees and rejected 2,917 applications.

TRTWorld and agencies