Saturday

29th Apr 2017

Barbed wire and penises mock Orban's referendum

  • A ballot mimicking John Lennon's Imagine album cover, with the Yes/No circles representing his eyes.

From reminders of the Syrian civil war to obscene cartoons: Hungarians found creative ways to cast an invalid vote in Sunday's (2 October) referendum on EU migration quotas.

On Sunday, social media was awash with pictures taken by Hungarian voters of the ways they made their ballots invalid.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • On another ballot was the iconic photo of a Syrian boy sitting shellshocked in an ambulance after a bombing in Aleppo.

With over 200,000 spoiled votes found in ballot boxes, it is the highest number of invalid papers ever cast in a vote in Hungary according to local media.

One powerful image was a picture glued to a ballot box of the Syrian boy sitting shellshocked in an ambulance after a round of bombings is the Syrian town of Aleppo.

Others went to greater lengths. One voter used pliers to attach a piece of barbed wire between the No and Yes options of the ballot, referring to the fence that Hungary erected last year along its southern borders to stop migrants.

One voter drew the face of John Lennon mimicking his album cover, Imagine, with the Yes/No circles representing the former Beatles musician's eyes.

A lot of other ballots were defaced by drawings of penises.

A selection of spoiled ballots can be viewed here and here.

The pictures themselves are a form of civil disobedience - according to guidance issued by the national election committee, the ballot should not be photographed.

Others commenting on social media also raised the issue of violating the secrecy of the vote by uploading a picture of it to the internet.

But none of it stopped the Hungarian dissenters.

Some drew flowers on their ballot, while others glued a picture of US presidential nominee Donald Trump's head, ticking the box for Trump rather than picking from the the Yes/No options.

Trump, like the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, who organised Sunday’s referendum as well as a xenophobic billboard campaign, is known for his anti-immigrant populism.

Another voter drew Pokemon balls in the Yes/No circles, by reference to the popular mobile app game.

Another one still wrote “shana tova” - a Hebrew greeting for the Jewish new year, which coincided with the referendum.

'Not a lame country'

Hungary's satire party, the Two-Tailed Dog Party had urged voters to cast invalid ballots in protest.

It had also organised a counter-Orban billboard campaign of its own in the run-up to Sunday.

Its leader, Gergely Kovacs, hailed the high number of invalid votes, saying the referendum showed that ”we’re not as lame a country as the government would like us to be”.

The referendum, in the end, failed to reach the required threshold for legal validity, with the spoiled ballots playing a small role in the equation.

But Orban still claimed victory, saying the fact that most of the people who did vote, voted no to EU quotas, gave him a political mandate to enshrine his opposition to the EU scheme in Hungary’s constitution.

Defiant Orban to carry on fight with Brussels

Hungary's prime minister is moving ahead with a contitutional change despite the invalid referendum on EU migration quotas. He expects a tough fight with Brussels.

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.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  2. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  3. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  4. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  5. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual
  6. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  7. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  8. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending