No referendum can be held on Paks expansion, says National Election Commission president

June 13, 2017

András Patyi, chairman of the National Election Commission

Current legislation does not even allow a confirmatory referendum on the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant, thus the National Election Commission (NVB) will not verify referendum questions regarding the expansion, according to NVB president András Patyi in an interview with conservative print daily Magyar Nemzet.

Patyi was asked why NVB had verified only one question out of the more than 70 proposed this year so far. “From a content point of view, in this case, in fact, there are 5-6 questions instead of 70,” he said. “[Referendum] initiatives cover 5-6 main topics and questions are often worded in a way that there is nearly no difference grammatically between them. The legislation, of course, allows one to propose the same question in the same topic multiple times. However, if somebody asks a question that covers a topic that the Constitution defines as a forbidden subject, even if they ask it 177 times, the answer will still be no.

“[Hungary’s highest court] the Curia already clearly explained that the international contract about the expansion includes agreements on the expansion, its financing and there is also an international contract on nuclear damage. The current legislation does not even allow a confirmatory referendum on these topics. One can try to juggle words and say that this has already been asked 70 times. Initiators [of a referendum on the expansion] only try to suggest that the NVB does not verify questions [on the expansion] at all,” Patyi told Magyar Nemzet when asked whether this applies to the questions of the Paks nuclear plant legislation as well.

Asked if he could word a question on the Paks expansion that would pass the NVB, he said:

“The Commission does not decide whether the cause of nuclear energy is important or not, only whether a proposed referendum question meets the criteria required by law. I think that because of the international contract that fully regulates the expansion of the nuclear plant, currently no referendum question can be verified on this topic. Initiators can appeal against our decisions to the Curia, and if it agrees with the NVB, initiators can still appeal to the Constitutional Court.”

Numerous referendum questions proposed by opposition parties on the Paks expansion and other topics important to the government have been rejected by the NVB in the recent years.