by Gabor Kukucska, business manager
“Thirteen years ago Hungary joined the European Union, and now after 13 years, Hungary made herself heard.”
These were the words with which Prime Minister Viktor Orban opened his speech on Oct. 2 in response to the published results of Hungary’s referendum regarding whether or not to comply with the Euopean Union’s (EU) migrant quotas. The question of the referendum was: “Do you want the European Union to ordain re-settlement of non-citizens in Hungary without the Hungarian Parliament’s approval?”
Since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015, thousands of refugees have left their homes and started their journeys in search of a new beginning. Among the Schengen countries that allow for people to travel within the EU without being stopped at the borders, Hungary is the furthest southeast. Because of this, the EU gave Hungary the responsibility to find a way to regulate the numbers of refugees entering the EU.
Hungary’s first action was to build a fence alongside the southern border between Hungary, Serbia and Croatia to slow the entries of refugees, especially the refugees who come without any official documentation. Even with this strategy implemented, Hungary has received more asylum requests than any other country in the EU. According to Eurostat, there are 1,799 applicants for every 100,000 of Hungary’s local population.
According to the Hungarian government website, there were approximately 3.4 million people who voted on the referendum out of 8.3 million eligible voters. Ninety-five percent of those voters voted “NO” on the referendum, but this number only represents 40 percent of the population of Hungary. Since this percentile is under the 50 percent of the entire country’s population, the referendum was a failure and the Hungarian government will be unable to change the law.
Despite these results, Orban has said that he is willing to a submit a proposal to parliament to change the law or even change the Constitution of Hungary to raise his concerns towards the European Union and the refugee situation in Europe.