- Title: Brussels residents welcome invalidity of Hungarian vote on migrant quotas
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: PHOTO OF HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, VIKTOR ORBAN, PRINTED ON FRONT PAGE FRONT PAGE OF BELGIAN NEWSPAPER 'DE MORGEN'
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 11:46
- Keywords: Belgium Brussels Hungary Vote migrant quotas referendum Orban Migrants
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00252GACZR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Brussels residents on Monday (October 3) welcomed the invalidity of Hungary's vote on migrant quotas but regretted that almost all Hungarians who voted in Sunday's referendum rejected the European Union's quotas.
Turnout was too low in the vote to make the poll valid, frustrating Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's hopes of a clear victory with which to challenge Brussels.
Orban said more Hungarians had rejected the migrant quotas than had voted for European Union membership in a referendum ahead of Hungary's 2004 accession to the bloc. Some 3.249 million votes were cast rejecting the quotas, compared with 2003's 3.056 million votes in favour of joining the EU.
On the streets of Brussels, residents were concerned by the vote, saying refugees should be welcomed.
Brussels business school graduate Michael Decobecq said he could not understand the result of the vote and that Europeans should put themselves in the shoes of refugees.
A 58-year old theatre director from The Hague, Peter van Muijen, said he was happy the referendum was invalid, saying the question itself was wrong.
Hungarians were asked: "Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?"
Flautist Aurelie Forges, who is originally from Brussels and lives in Salta, Northern Argentina, said her move abroad helped her identify with the migrants.
"I think we should all welcome them. We should not have any borders. I think that the migrant issue is a fake problem. It's the sharing of wealth, which is the problem. I lived in Argentina, I was welcomed there and I never had any problem there. It's already complicated enough for me although nobody ever gave me any trouble and people made my life easier there. If you imagine that this is about people who underwent great hardship to come here and we don't even welcome them. That's the real problem for me," she said.
Retired Belgian school teacher Catherine Monsanto said the referendum outcome made her fear for the future.
Orban, whose hardline policy on migration has been criticised by human rights groups but is popular at home, said despite the low turnout that invalidated the vote that EU policymakers should heed the "outstanding" referendum outcome.
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. Final results are expected next week.
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