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Quota Referendum: Half-victory for Viktor Orbán

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By Ferenc Almássy.

Hungary – The referendum called by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has mobilized 44.35% of Hungarian voters. This theoretically invalidates the vote, since the constitutional quorum of 50% was not not reached. That means the national Parliament does not have to consider it. The referendum that was to crown a year of anti-Brussels policies in terms of illegal immigration has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some … and especially among admirers of Viktor Orbán abroad, particularly those who see him as a savior of Europe from immigration, liberalism, and the Left, which favor ethnic and cultural suicide. The failure of a champion always disappoints all the more, and it is unfortunately quite common to claim defeat after a lost battle, even when the war is not yet over. In unison with the Hungarian internationalist Left, the Western press is trying to portray this referendum as a total defeat. But this is false. Let’s take a step back and analyze the situation.

The NO vote finished well in the lead with 98.32% of the valid votes (or 39.27% of voters). Although participation is low, this does not diminish the message sent by the voters. We should also relativize this low participation rate: in the 6 referendums that have been held since the regime change, the average turnout was 41.89%. Those citizens who were most committed to democracy expressed themselves, and it was a resounding NO to the Brussels policy regarding illegal immigration. As for the huffing and puffing pro-European who opposed the referendum: if this referendum is invalid, what about that of 2003 concerning the entry of Hungary into the EU, which attracted only 42.05% of the voters, only 37.80% of whom voted YES?

But certainly there is disappointment, because the referendum is officially invalid. However, let’s guard against exaggeration: this is not a defeat, legally speaking. Viktor Orbán simply narrowly missed a beautiful asset which he could have used against Brussels. This does not mean that Hungary said YES to quotas. It does not mean that Hungary will destroy her fence or let illegal immigrants in without controls from now on. The migration policy of Hungary is unaffected by the referendum. In short, it is as if nothing had happened, one might say; but the interpretation of such a result is subject to the discretion of each observer.

One thing is certain: Hungarian migration policy won’t change

Orbán’s Fidesz focuses on the result of the vote without taking into account the referendum turnout. Highlighting the 98.32% that have voted against the migrant quotas, Victor Orbán said, “This is a tremendous result.” Accordingly, Fidesz announced a change in the constitution in order to protect Hungary from the EU Commission.

The radical Party Jobbik, the largest opposition party, was demanding a constitutional change from the start. The patriotic party feared vote invalidity, and tonight’s result proved them right. However, Jobbik had called to vote NO since they thought the referendum surpassed party politics. For Jobbik’s President, Gábor Vona, this is an own goal scored for the Prime Minister as the referendum conditions have been established by Fidesz themselves in 2011, and in particular the quorum condition.

Invalid votes account for 6.33% of the votes cast, which is above the usual 1-2%. This is the result of a satirical campaign conducted by liberals from the “Two tailed Dog Party,” a kind of schoolboyish half-anarchist, half-bourgeois-bohemians political association, who were joined by a considerable number of Leftist voters. This result, when added to the 1.68% of YES (of the votes cast), represents the actual “Left” opposition that prefers Brussels over Budapest and wants to send a general opposition message to Viktor Orbán.

When it comes to the globalist and liberal-Left parties, they are proclaiming that the victory is theirs, just as the mainstream media is trying to pretend. It is true that anti-national advocates had called for a boycott. But in addition to their opposition to Fidesz through the use of this tactic in a partisan rather than a national way, their abstention is an incentive for the citizens to shirk their duty – and is thus an act of betrayal.

Hence, this is only a semi-victory for Orbán, as he won’t be able to bring the ace that he dreamed of, although he still holds a good hand which will allow him both to initiate a constitutional change and continue his migration policies, which have been legitimated by 98.32% of the valid votes. However, the technical invalidity of the referendum has to be understood as a warning sign: opposition is strengthening and corruption, in particular, needs to be better addressed…

In the end, a political matter is handled politically, and the way in which the result is seen depends on the point of view of everyone involved. Viktor Orbán sees a victory and will continue his migration policies. Thus, Hungary continues to fly the NO flag against the Brussels-based migration policies.