The legacy media on both sides of the Atlantic have portrayed the recent referendum in Hungary as a defeat for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Disregarding the fact that 98% of those who voted rejected the EU’s migration quotas, the referendum’s failure to reach the 50% turnout required for a mandatory legal change is painted as a loss for the prime minister.
Any journalist worthy of the description would have examined the facts on the ground — namely, that the Hungarian constitution is being amended to reflect the referendum — and concluded that Mr. Orbán had scored an historic victory. But being a real journalist is a disqualification for a position with the MSM.
Many thanks to JLH for translating this analysis from the Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung, a regional German paper:
A Slap in the Face for Viktor Orbán?
by Florian Stumfall
October 15, 2016
Disagreement over the interpretation and consequences of the Hungarian referendum on EU asylum policy
The participants in the referendum exercised their right to vote. Then EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, and with him all of the Brussels centralists, exulted that the Hungarian referendum on the distribution of asylum seekers among EU states missed the quorum percentage of 50%. Similarly, much of the media spoke of the failing of the referendum in Hungary. And yet, is a participation of only 45% really a slap in the face for Viktor Orbán?
The EU parliamentary president’s interpretation of the result was, “Thanks to the Hungarian people, damage to Europe, that the Hungarian government was willing to accept, has been averted.” Swept under the rug in most analyses of the result is the fact that 98% of those who voted were against the distribution. In absolute numbers, more than three million of about ten million Magyars voted with Prime Minister Orbán — which is more than voted for joining the EU at the time. It seems a stretch to see that as a defeat for Orbán.
The Austrian Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, added: “It is a mistake to interpret this as Hungary wanting more immigrants. That, I believe, would be a false interpretation.” According to Kurz, the EU’s goal of distributing asylum seekers among members states is “totally unrealistic.” In an interview with a large German Sunday magazine, he made the following calculation: “If, as is now to be foreseen, we continue as before to distribute the refugees among individual countries, we would need 30 years for 160,000 people. Furthermore, the debate on the distribution of refugees by quota can endanger the coherence of the entire European Union.” In fact, the EU is not endangered by the Hungarian referendum, as Schulz maintains, but by the insistence on distribution quotas.
This topic leads us to Austria’s striking rapprochement with Hungary, albeit no longer in a dynastic sense. In Vienna, the Social Democratic Prime Mister, Christian Kern, followed the lead of his Foreign Minister. He acknowledges: “We know that we can not now accomplish the distribution of refugees,” referring to the Visegrad states of Poland. Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary, which have taken a negative attitude toward the asylum problem.
The Austrian Social Democrat sees no problem in Hungary’s failure to reach a quorum, and expects that to have no consequences. “The outcome of the referendum in Hungary will not alter the state of play,” said Kern. That is, neither the EU nor Hungary will alter its policy. Even before the referendum and therefore without knowledge of its result, the Hungarian prime minister had announced that the plebiscite would have legal consequences. In future, the Hungarian legal system, would be aligned with the principle that only the Hungarian parliament (and not the EU) would determine “with whom Hungarians would and would not choose to coexist.”
Orbán has had sufficient aggravation from eurocrats over a long period of time to know that he was risking a basic conflict with Brussels by taking this action. Perhaps he even counted on it. The EU is assuming responsibility for the right to asylum. Orbán is utilizing the helplessness of the EU, which is recognizable in its inability to place the 160,000 immigrants we know of. To assume a responsibility it is incapable of fulfilling weakens Brussels’ political position, and Orbán would not be who he is if he let this opportunity go by.
And he knows very well that he is not alone, but is playing the role of trailblazer. Besides the Visegrad nations, Austria bolsters his position, as do all the political forces in EU member states as far as France, which have declared war on “merkelesque” immigration policy. How weak Brussels and Berlin are is clear from the fact that the principle of distribution by quota is not being carried out, is gradually fading from memory, and will not be used in the future.
There will be parliamentary elections in Hungary in 2018. Orbán knows that he is at a disadvantage in some policy areas, so he emphasizes the themes in which the majority are behind him; and those are themes concerning the EU and asylum seekers. He knows of his people’s continuing desire to regain more and more sovereignty from Brussels. The Magyar people live an island existence and feel challenged to defend their national distinctiveness. The egalitarianism of the EU does not fit with that. Under this aegis, Orbán can lay claim to a historic task.