All Eyes Are on Hungary

Other European countries are watching with great interest the migrant quota referendum that will be held next Sunday in Hungary.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for translating this article from the Polish news portal

Correspondence With Hungary

In a week comes the Immigration Referendum, which will be a test for Viktor Orbán

I’m in Budapest. Subject number one in the local media, in political circles and among ordinary Hungarians in the streets is yesterday’s explosion at Oktogon Square. Initially it was said that the explosion in the center of the capital could have been the result of a leaky gas installation. It is now known that this was — as the pyrotechnics experts are claiming — a “homemade bomb.” As a result of the detonation two police officers were injured. So far it is not known who was the perpetrator of the attack. We’re all wondering whether the explosion was related to the referendum, which will take place next week, and whether it might influence the outcome.

In the streets of Budapest and other Hungarian cities everywhere you can see posters declaring that the perpetrators of attacks in Paris or rapes in Cologne were illegal immigrants. It’s a sign that our Hungarian cousins are preparing for the referendum to be held next Sunday, October 2nd. The question that citizens will be answering reads: “Do you want the European Union to be able to order, even without the consent of parliament, the compulsory settlement in Hungary of persons other than Hungarian citizens?”

The referendum will be held at the initiative of the ruling Fidesz party, which cares very much about victory. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that he hoped that Hungarians will forge the sword with which he’ll be able to fight the Eurocrats in Brussels.

There is no doubt that the majority of voters will oppose the compulsory quotas. According to recent surveys, about 80 percent Hungarians support such a result. For the referendum to be valid, more than a half of eligible voters must take part in it. And this is actually the only unknown.

Orbán is of course aware that turnout is his main problem. Therefore, in a recent interview he said that the outcome of the referendum will decide the fate of the country for the next generation. He added that anyone who does not take part in the vote will by his conduct send the message that he isn’t interested in the fate of his own country.

According to recent polls, about 53% of respondents expressed their intention to participate in the referendum. However, this is a small majority, within the limits of statistical error, and does not guarantee success next Sunday.

Hungarian media believe that the reason for the demobilization of the electorate was the recent statement by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. He stated that Brussels is withdrawing its plans to combat the immigration crisis, including the imposition of mandatory quotas on EU member states. If it turns out to be true — according to some Hungarian journalists — a referendum would be pointless. Others say that one declaration by a Brussels dignitary does not mean the final abandonment of earlier plans, but may result in some voters staying at home.

As I was told by Attila Szalai, an employee of the Institute for Research and Archive System Transformation, in the game that Orbán is playing the stakes are high. Victory in the referendum could in fact embolden other forces in the European Union, those opposed to immigration policy in Berlin and Brussels, and it could become the impetus for those forces to act.

The triumph of Fidesz will be at the same time a victory for the Visegrad Group countries, because both the governments and the majority of the citizens of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic share with the Hungarians’ opinion about immigration.

Viktor Orbán also believes that if the referendum is a success, it will improve his position in the European forum, in order to propose an amendment of the Lisbon Treaty the EU. He wants a new document, which would strengthen the autonomy of the nation states in the Union. The Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said:

“The position of our prime minister has not changed: since the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon, several key circumstances for which Europe was not prepared, have changed.”

Kovács elaborated that he meant for example Brexit and the immigration crisis. This makes the revision of the Treaty of Lisbon necessary.

No wonder that next week all Europe will be watching Hungary.

12 thoughts on “All Eyes Are on Hungary

  1. Oh dear fellow Magyars!

    Please vote! Make your voices heard. Orban and Hungary need you now.

    I will send email to my Hunky cousins right now to urge them to vote, also.

    • Hunkies, I’ve never heard that before, I love it and will be appropriating it going forward.
      Now I don’t play for the pink team or anything like that, but from what I’ve seen of the “Hunkies” I’d say the name is a perfect fit.

  2. I just sent an email to my Hungarian cousins to urge them to vote! Of course everyone should vote but they are not as accustomed to vote as we in America in are (some of us anyway).

    I hope it all turns out well, although these days doom is in my mind.

  3. All my relatives are going to vote and many of their friends!
    As for the result, if the referendum was successful and the NO wins, law experts already talking about a possible change to the constitution, which makes any future attempt to settle compulsory foreign invasion force in Hungary will be impossible. (legally).

  4. Meanwhile I’m learning Hungarian on duolingo so I’m prepared with a civilized language in case it ever becomes necessary.

    • Good luck! (and given it’s so different to any other language, you might need it ;))

      Come to think of it, a German I worked with went to Hungary late last year to learn Hungarian. Others were asking why he wants to learn Hungarian, of all languages. But strangely enough, he went around October – around the same time as Orban started putting up resistance…

      • In the last couple of years around 35,000 German decided to purchase a home in Hungary and moved there. (mostly around the lake Balaton. Those people now safe!

        • If preparation and planning be the key to success then I imagine having close reality drenched family and friends assets circled around Western Europe is a move in the right direction.

          • Not those ones–that’s what they are escaping. If my Hungarian learning goes down the gurgler, I’ll just have to brush up my German and move to Lake Balaton.

  5. My suggestion would be to pull out of the Treaty of Lisbon altogether, including associate membership, which is what Switzerland has.

    I know this will entail a short-term economic hit, as well as constrain any government from profligate deficit spending through borrowing. However, experience, plus Public Choice Theory, shows that any bureaucracy or cooperative government will steadily work over time to dissolve the independence of its members.

    In the history of modern Europe, it is the international cooperative defense treaties that sucked the entire continent into huge wars that should have been settled on the local level. Prior to World War I, Austria was emboldened by its treaty with Germany to push totally unreasonable demands on Serbia. Once the trigger was pulled, all the countries of Europe, through interlocking and secret treaties, got sucked in.

    Much better to have Austria occupy Serbia and deal with the inevitable costly and frustrating guerrilla warfare.

    Similarly, with World War II. AJP Taylor in his book, “The Origins of the Second World War” explains how Britain and France were urging Poland to come to an accord with Hitler, and Poland dawdled, fortified by the knowledge it had a treaty of support with both. Germany may or may not have been determined to get into an expansionist war, but the treaty England had with Poland didn’t prevent the attack; it simply made England’s declaration of war almost inevitable.

    I’m making the point that the EU countries are better off without the EU and its military counterpart, NATO. NATO membership of countries bordering Russia can only have the effect of making them less willing to accede to Russian vital interests. Situations like the Crimea can easily draw NATO and Russia into war, which would be a first-class disaster.

    It would not be a bad thing to have a bit of local friction between neighboring countries. If we have seen anything in the past few years, it is that a country absolutely has to have the option of using controlled violence to maintain its existence. It’s better to let neighbors settle their own differences. The Franco-Prussian War was an example of a local conflict. Prussia whupped France, took a few provinces, and withdrew.

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