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Justice committee refuses to take up Jobbik proposal to end residency bond program

Hungary’s parliamentary justice committee voted today not to take up for discussion a constitutional amendment proposed by Jobbik MP Gabor Staudt banning the sale of residency bonds.

Jobbik’s proposal comes after the amendment proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to prohibit the compulsory resettlement of refugees in Hungary without the consent of the Hungarian parliament failed to achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Jobbik had conditioned its support of the amendment on putting an end to the residency bond program which enables wealthy foreigners and their family members to settle in Hungary (thereby granting the right of free movement within the Schengen zone).

Although Orbán and other high-ranking government officials have talked about possibly ending the program at the end of 2016, it remains to be seen whether parliament takes up the issue for debate.

Some background

Shortly after announcing that the October 2 referendum on the EU’s proposed migrant resettlement quota scheme had failed, Orbán declared victory and personally proposed an amendment to the Fundamental Law based on the idea of constitutional identity.

But having lost two seats in parliament since 2014 (making the ruling alliance two seats shy of the supermajority needed to modify the constitution), Fidesz-KDNP was forced to seek the support of opposition parties.

Jobbik offered to support the amendment on the condition that Hungary’s controversial residency bond program be shut down.

A meeting between Orbán and Jobbik chairman and parliamentary delegation leader Gábor Vona proved unfruitful. Orbán did not budge on the residency bond program, so Jobbik did not vote for the constitutional modification.

Weeks later, Jobbik submitted its version of Orbán’s proposal, the only difference being that it bans the sale of residency bonds.

Benjamin Novak :