- Title: Hungarian opposition blasts Orban over invalid referendum on migrants
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (RECENT, 2016) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING BY PARLIAMENT FLAG ON TOP OF PARLIAMENT
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 13:30
- Keywords: Viktor Orban Hungary referendum EU quotas
- Location: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- City: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00152GBCJD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Under fire from opposition parties, Viktor Orban insisted on Monday (October 3) that Sunday's referendum proved Budapest's right to decide on EU migrant quotas even though turnout was too low to make the vote valid.
"The referendum made Hungarians' position clear. Hungary has made a decision, 98% of those who took part have said that the right to decide (on migrants) belongs to Budapest and for this right we must fight, this is the decision of the referendum," he said as he addressed the parliament.
The outcome deprived the maverick right-wing prime minister of a clear-cut victory with which to challenge EU migrant quotas and the radical nationalist Jobbik party called on him to quit.
The nationalists said Sunday's referendum, in which the government said quotas were rejected by 98.3 percent of voters but only 40 percent of eligible Hungarians cast a valid vote, was a fiasco that offered a "trump card" to Brussels. At least 50 percent turnout in the plebiscite was required to legitimise the result.
Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona has repeatedly called for a constitutional amendment to protect Hungary from migrant quotas imposed by the European Commission.
"You have gambled with Hungary. You could not overcome your ego in domestic politics and you lost the battle," Jobbik leader, Gabor Vona, said.
Vona said EU authorities would zero in on the fact that the referendum failed legally, and this would weaken Hungary's bargaining position in EU deliberations on migrant policy.
"Brussels will only care about the fact that you took the country into an invalid referendum. I therefore say you need to resign, like David Cameron did, as is the norm in European politics. I know you will not resign, I can see it on your face, but the least you could offer is an apology," he added.
Along with other ex-Communist countries in eastern Europe, Hungary opposes a policy that would require all EU states to take in some of the hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim migrants seeking asylum in the bloc after arriving last year.
The European Commission said it took note of Hungary's referendum and it was up to Budapest to deal with the outcome.
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