19-point referendum to be held this year?

March 22, 2015


“This is going to be a system wrecking plebiscite, where people will be free to judge the Orbán system” – Gulyás Balázs

The chances of a successful referendum being held yet this year was discussed by the spiritual rectors of the plebiscite initiative Balázs Gulyás, Tamás Lattmann and Zoltán Vajda. While they are counting on the participation of Jobbik supporters, there are no plans to negotiate with the party.

According to Zoltán Vajda, last autumn’s protests were successful in many ways. The government cancelled the planned internet tax, and the new private pension was not adopted with retroactive effect. Vajda also stated that the victory of the independent civil candidate Zoltán Kész in the Veszprém by-election was “everyone’s success.”

The 19-point referendum unveiled at the civil opposition rally held on March 15 addresses 15 topics. According to Vajda the questions are necessarily complicated, and were written this way on purpose, so they can make it to the referendum. Thankfully, the National Election Office of Hungary accepted all the 19 questions, so the first hurdle has been cleared.  Considering four-fifths of requests failed the first found in 2014 and 2015, this is actually a big deal.

International lawyer Tamás Lattmann said the aim of the plebiscite is the destruction of some elements from the system, and he thinks a serious hiatus of the rule of law started evolving.

Lattman also told us that the organizers created the questions to be less fragile, based on the legal practices of the National Election Commission and the courts last year. He believes that the fact they have passed the first gate clearly shows their serious intentions. In case of rejection, the activists plan to turn to the Curia.

“The system is not only bad because Viktor Orbán sits at the top of it.  It would also be bad, if someone else sat there” said Balázs Gulyás.  He said the direct objective of referendum was to prevent the government from stealing and from “spending our money on stupidity and squandering our future.”

In 2011 Fidesz changed the law so as to make it more difficult to organize a successful referendum. When asked how they plan to achieve the necessary number of votes if Fidesz calls for a boycott of the referendum even if they are successful in collecting 200,000 signatures, Gulyás replied that such a boycott would be “a sign of their own weakness”, and that while the government might get away with it technically it cannot ignore the fact that “millions of people want another system instead of the current one.”

Vajda thinks the plebiscite will be successful though, and says the participation will be above 50 percent, with the majority voting in favor of it.  They are also counting on the support of Fidesz voters. “Don’t Fidesz supporters want a credit for their private pensions?” asked Vajda.

Vajda said he would not be satisfied with 2.5 million votes in favor and 500,000 against because in that case the election would not be valid. He emphasized that the aim is to end up with successful results in all the 19 questions, a goal he considers realistic.

“This is going to be a system wrecking plebiscite, where people will be free to judge the Orbán system” says Gulyás, who likens the referendum to the one held in 1989.  Latin says “we have to remind the people that once again they can have raise their voices on matters of power” which he acknowledges to be “an extremely difficult task.”  However, Vajda emphasized that “complicated questions are starting to be expressed.”

Afterwards, Lattmann said they are not afraid of the democratic parties not supporting the signature gathering. Gulyás said that just as democratic parties had stood behind a successful civil candidate in Veszprém, so would they support the initiative of the referendum. Vajda thinks it is in everybody’s common interest to destroy the Orbán system. Though Vajda is a common deputy in the 16th district, to the question whether they count on Együtt party more, than the other democratic parties in the signature gathering campaign, he answered with a firm no. He said they haven’t conferred with the parties, then Gulyás added they need every democratic and civil powers.

Gulyás said that he would be surprised if Jobbik supported the referendum, since their march 15 demonstration was mentioned on Kuruc.info as a protest in the shadow of a leaving train. After repeating our question whether Jobbik is a block, Vajda responded he doesn’t think they should negotiate with Jobbik, as a party, although their voters are worth a try. Gulyás believes that if referendum initiative was successful, it would hopefully result the strenghten of civil society and democratic parties, so it would affect against Jobbik indirectly. He also said that positive results would terminate Orbán’s government in a democratic way, and that people who participate in this will appear to be stronger than the ones who do not. Lattmann thinks the new point of view suggested by the 19 questions is not compatible with Jobbik’s antisemitic, and anti-gypsy world, and that it is not their task to  beat Jobbik. In case people are thinking about voting for Jobbik due to a lack of alternatives, there is a chance to change their party preferences after a fruitful referendum.

To our question about a potential establishment of a party in the long term, the response was not obvious. The final goal is the new Hungarian Republic, an establishment of a party is not a current issue at the moment.

Afterwards, Gulyás said they have no connection with the roadblockers, and they think it is not an efficient method, because it blocks people disproportionately.

“If everything goes as planned, there could be a referendum in the end of 2015 at best, but at the very worst it would be kept in the summer of 2016” says Gulyás.

We were also informed that the site is accessible from www.ujmagyarkoztarsasag.hu. More than 2000 sympathisers have provided their names and contacts already.