Little enthusiasm for quota referendum among Hungarians living outside Hungary

August 25, 2016

"Did you know? Immigrants committed the Paris terror attacks."
“Did you know? Immigrants committed the Paris terror attacks.”

Registration numbers for the October 2 referendum on the EU’s migrant resettlement quota plan have been relatively low among ethnic Hungarians living beyond the borders, writes Hungarian daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

Citing data from the National Election Office, the paper said some 3000 people have registered in the past three weeks. This brings the total number of registered voters among ethnic Hungarians residing in Hungary’s near abroad to 264,000. Voters living beyond the border have until September 17 to register to vote in the referendum.

According to Magyar Nemzet, 114,000 voters have registered in Romania, 29,000 in Serbia and 2,100 in Germany.

The paper points out that these numbers are relatively low considering that over 800,000 ethnic Hungarians have been granted Hungarian citizenship, 700,000 of whom are of voting age.

No country for expats

While ethnic Hungarians appear to be not keen on registering, Hungarian expats will have a much harder time if they want to cast their votes in October.

Despite continuous protests from expats and opposition parties alike, ruling party Fidesz has declared it will definitely not allow Hungarian nationals living abroad to vote by mail. This means that, once again, tens of thousands of expat Hungarians must travel to possibly far-off embassies and consulates to exercise their constitutional rights, as opposed to dual citizens living in neighboring countries such as Romania, Serbia, Ukraine or Slovakia, who are allowed to cast absentee ballots in Hungarian elections.

Campaign kicks off

Although the referendum campaign officially started last week, it will really kick into high gear after September 1, reports Hungarian business weekly Figyelő.

“Every minister and undersecretary will travel around the country,” a source told the paper. “In addition to dealing with issues related to their specialty, they will also have to make strong cases about the importance of the referendum, that Hungary’s future is at stake! Serious mobilization is what is expected. Languid speech will not be enough. [These politicians] are expected to really get into it.”

According to Figyelő‘s sources, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants a “No” vote so resounding that it will set off a referendum tsunami across Europe. He expects Hungary’s example to boost the confidence of other countries to launch referendums rejecting the resettlement of refugees against the wishes of their own governments.