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Fidesz ups ante in fight against quota system

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán signing his own party’s petition opposing the mandatory quota system.

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party is stepping up its game in the fight against EU plans for a mandatory quota system. Prominent Fidesz party officials are touring the country to take part in a series of closed, town hall-style meetings with a view to raising awareness of the risks posed by admitting asylum seekers.

Hungarian news site VS.hu reports that the party’s national campaign against the quota system aims to convince Fidesz “sympathizers” of the risks Hungary would be exposed to if it accepted asylum seekers into the country.

It is not clear what VS.hu means by “sympathizers”, but presumably only party members and those signing the Fidesz petition opposing the mandatory quota system will be invited to the meetings.

Fidesz party leaders started the campaign last week and hope to visit one hundred settlements around the country by December.

The party’s press office says the town hall-style discussions are meant to help Fidesz supporters “recognize the successes of Hungarian unity in recent years”, and to raise awareness about the “direct dangers” to Hungary posed by a mandatory quota system.

Fidesz has been gathering signatures against the EU quota system since early November.  The campaign is reminiscent of the “war on household expenses” rolled out at the beginning of 2013 in the run-up to the 2014 general and municipal elections.

Fidesz deputy chairman and parliamentary fraction leader Lajos Kósa recently said that as many as 750,000 Hungarians have signed the petition. Signatures have been gathered in places such as the Felcsút Catholic church. Even priests are reportedly preaching support for the petition from pulpit.

Critics accuse Fidesz of using the petition as an excuse to obtain the contact information of actual and potential Fidesz supporters.

Benjamin Novak :