Monday

20th Nov 2017

Defiant Orban to carry on fight with Brussels

  • Orban gave a defiant speech in the Hungarian parliament on monday, vowing legilsation on the quota issue (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban has vowed to carry on his fight with Brussels despite the invalid vote on EU migration quotas.

Hungary's referendum on the mandatory migration quotas on Sunday (2 October) was invalid after the government, which called for the vote, failed to attract half of the voting age population to ballot boxes.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Turnout was 44 percent, with only 40 percent casting a valid vote. Of those who did vote, 98 percent of people supported Orban's call to prevent the EU from obliging Hungary to take in refugees.

The European Commission said Monday "it takes note" of the outcome of the referendum.

"We respect the democratic will of the Hungarian people, both of those who voted and those who did not," commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told journalists.

"It is for the Hungarian government to decide how to deal with the outcome of this referendum," he added.

'In the spirit of'

Despite the invalid plebiscite, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban said he would make a constitutional change on immigration "in the spirit of the referendum."

He did not give details on the upcoming legislation.

"Sunday's referendum has achieved its goal," Orban said in parliament on Monday, highlighting that over 3.2 million voters rejected the EU mandatory quota idea - more than the number of people who voted in 2003 in favour of Hungary joining the EU.

He said Hungary is the only EU member state, where voters were asked about the migration policy, that he said, could decide the EU's existence.

Orban went on to say the referendum's outcome does not result in a legally binding legislation for the Hungarian parliament, but he proposed to change the consitution to accomodate the vote's results.

"This decision, this support [from the voters] obliges me to act," Orban told parliament.

Opposition lawmakers booed, and some called for Orban's resignation.

Far-right Jobbik leader Gabor Vona said Orban has failed. "You will not be taken seriously by Brussels bureaucrats," he told parliament, adding that "Brussels will exploit your irresponsibility and mistake."

The Hungarian PM admitted he expects a tough fight in Brussels over the migration policy.

"The political elite and the supporters - also in Hungary - of unlimited migration and resettlement have a strong tool kit, they are loud, anti-democratic and violent," he told MPs.

Momentum suffers?

Analysts agree that Orban has suffered a blow, but it is far from politically fatal.

Csaba Toth at the Budapest-based Republikon Institute told this website Orban was not shaken by the vote, and the effect of the invalid referendum would be limited in Europe.

"It is a failure, but not a big failure for Orban," said Toth, who added that populist movements across Europe suffered a relative setback with the vote.

Fabian Zuleeg of the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, warned that we should not underestimate the referendum despite the low turnout.

"The [quota] issue is not going to go away, and Orban has no intention of toning down his rhetoric," he told this website, but warned that the fight against populism would be a long process, and ultimately a task for domestic politicians.

Orban spins migrant vote result, as EU celebrates

Hungarians have rejected xenophobia with their resounding no-show to Viktor Orban's referendum on Sunday, according to European politicians. But the prime minister claims the vote has validated his battle with Brussels.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  2. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  3. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  5. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  6. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  7. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  9. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  10. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. Tusk's 'Kremlin' tweet prompts Polish uproar
  2. German coalition talks collapse
  3. Decision day for EU agencies relocation race
  4. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  5. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  6. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  7. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  8. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities