Hungary’s highest court green lights referendum on migrant resettlement quota system

May 3, 2016

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

Hungary’s highest court, the so-called Curia, green lighted a Fidesz-KDNP-sponsored referendum on what the government claims is a diabolical plan by Brussels to resettle economic migrants from the Middle East and Central Asia in Hungary in what the two parties claim is a clear violation of the EU member state’s sovereignty.

The referendum question reads:

“Do you want the European Union without the consent of the Hungarian parliament to prescribe that it be mandatory to resettle non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?”

The National Election Committee validated the referendum question two months ago, but the question was challenged in the Curia because its critics considered it to be unconstitutional.

The government’s referendum seeks to excuse Hungary from taking in any refugees. There is currently one EU rule that would oblige Hungary to resettle 1,294 refugees by September 2017. The referendum would have no bearing on this settlement plan.

Fidesz and government officials claim their referendum is totally legal and does not violate the constitution. There are others, however, who find no shortage of legal problems with the anti-quota referendum.

According to 444.hu, the government has been back and forth on the constitutionality of holding a referendum on an issue related to Hungary’s international agreements. Most recently, justice minister László Trócsányi opined the referendum to be completely legal because it does not affect Hungary’s international agreements.

The government plans to hold the referendum in early autumn.

Critics of the referendum say it is unconstitutional because it is being held on a question falling outside the immediate jurisdiction of the Hungarian parliament.  Critics further claim the ruling Fidesz-KDNP parties are merely trying to use the issue to whip up anti-foreigner sentiment in Hungary for the sake of shoring up their popularity.