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News > World

Low Turnout Invalidates Hungary Refugee Vote, 95% Reject Quotas

  • Voter turnout low.

    Voter turnout low. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 October 2016

Despite the low turnout, the vote was overwhelmingly against the established EU quotas.

Despite overwhelming opposition to the European Union's quotas for refugees, Hungary's referendum will be declared invalid due to low voter turnout, reports confirmed Sunday.

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Nearly 95 percent of all ballots cast in Sunday's referendum rejected quotas set by the European Union requiring Hungary to accept a minimum number of refugees. But only 45 percent of all registered voters turned out to vote, and electoral rules require 50 percent turnout.

The vote was reminiscent of the U.K's decision in June to exit the EU.

Hungarians were asked: “Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the (Hungarian parliament)?"

Hungarians were widely expected to reject the E.U's authority, though the margin was surprising. The vote comes as EuEurope's open door policy comes under pressure amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria especially.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing party have been a strong supporter of a “No” vote, which has been fueled by a populist anti-immigration and xenophobic campaigning. Orban, who has positioned himself as a defender of European Christianity, previously said, “Europe is under attack … we may one morning wake up and realize that we are in the minority.”

"The more migrants there are, the greater the risk of terror. We would like to preserve Hungary a safe country like it is now," Orban said on Thursday to TV2. Orban appears to have gained considerable support, with polls predicting a rejection of the EU quotas, with 80 percent of those saying they will vote backing “No.”

Orban, who is often referred to as the “Victator,” has been a harsh critic of Europe's current border policy and in particular Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door approach in Germany, who has remained steadfast in her approach. Following a massive influx of migrants from the Middle East, fueled largely by war and unrest, Europe has been experiencing its biggest influx of people since the World War II.

In response, Hungary built walls along its border with Serbia and Croatia, including razor wire fences and thousands of armed police and army personnel. Other countries in the Balkans and across Europe have tightened their borders. 

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A number of EU officials along with human rights groups, however, are concerned about rising xenophobic rhetoric and government lead anti-refugee hate campaigns.

"The publicly financed anti-refugee propaganda has blatantly demonized migrants, suggesting that migration is responsible for terrorism, that migration – as such – endangers Hungarian culture," said the human rights organization Helsinki Committee.
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