- Title: Hungarians split over failed referendum
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGE SHOWING PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN SMILING
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 09:49
- Keywords: Hungary referendum Viktor Orban EU quotas
- Location: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- City: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00252GA1XJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Budapest residents showed diverse opinions on Monday (October 3) after Sunday's vote to reject migrant quotas, which a low turnout made invalid.
Almost all Hungarians who voted in the referendum rejected the European Union's migrant quotas, but turnout was too low to make the poll valid, frustrating Prime Minister Viktor Orban's hopes of a clear victory with which to challenge Brussels.
The National Election Office said on its website that 98.3 percent of those who voted had rejected the quotas with 99.97 percent of votes counted. Just 40 percent of around 8.26 million eligible people had cast a valid vote, however, less than the 50 percent needed to legitimise the result.
"What is at stake is the future of our country, people should have voted for the future of our children and yet many people were too lazy to vote. They should be ashamed," Budapest resident Istvan Nemet said as he hurried to work along a busy boulevard.
"There were 98% 'no' answers, so from this point of view it was a success. But what the 'red Brussels' (referring to Brussels as a communist stronghold) dictates to our homeland is unfortunately not in our hands right now," another passerby, who only gave his first name as Pal, said.
Along with other ex-Communist countries in Eastern Europe, Hungary opposes a policy that would require all EU countries to take in some of the hundreds of thousands of people seeking asylum in the bloc after arriving last year.
Orban, who responded to the influx by sealing Hungary's southern borders with a razor-wire fence and thousands of army and police, says deciding whether to accept migrants is a matter of national sovereignty.
He says Hungary -- with its Christian roots -- does not want to take in Muslims in large numbers as they pose a security risk, a view shared by some Hungarians.
"Unfortunately, I see the end of Christianity if Islam occupies Europe. And at the moment that is the tendency," resident Maria Pallosi agreed.
But other passersby said they were glad that the turn-out was low and the referendum therefore declared invalid as it showed that Orban's Fidesz party did not have an overwhelming support despite a very heavy campaign.
"It was to be expected. After all, people still kept their minds sober despite such brainwashing, which I have never seen in my 86 years," Bela Sarlai said.
In power since 2010 and with his Fidesz party still firmly ahead in opinion polls, Orban will use the referendum to keep the issue of migration on the political agenda in the run-up to 2018 elections.
Some opposition parties seized on the fact that turnout had fallen short of the threshold needed to validate the vote, with radical nationalist Jobbik calling the referendum "a fiasco" and calling on Orban to quit. Leftist opposition party DK also said Orban should step down.
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