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More than 3.36 million Hungarians voted “no” in the October 2nd referendum on the EU’s proposed quota system, an overwhelming 98 percent voting in favor of the government’s position that the decision on relocation of non-Hungarians should remain a national competence.
Hungary will hold a popular referendum on October 2nd, 2016 on the so-called quota package, the plan whereby the European Union could relocate an unlimited number of migrants to the territory of Hungary and other Member States. “Do you want the European Union,” the referendum question asks voters, “to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?”
The situation in numbers: Between January and October 2015, 1.2 million migrants crossed a European border illegally and more than 391 thousand travelled via the western Balkans route, passing through Hungary. Despite the cold winter, an average of one thousand people are still arriving to Europe every day. Most of them do not have any proper documentation.
In an effort to support families with children and counter negative demographic trends, the Hungarian government announced the innovative Family Housing Allowance Program, or CSOK, which would offer up to 20 million HUF of assistance per family, specifically toward home ownership. Together with a significant reduction in the value-added tax rate on newly built homes, cutting it from 27 to 5 percent, the program offers considerable financial assistance to young couples to become homeowners.
In 2010, Hungarian voters went to the polls looking for change. Eight years of mismanagement of the economy by socialist-liberal governments left the country badly exposed in the financial crisis. Consumer confidence had collapsed, unemployment and the debt to GDP ratio was on the rise and so too was social instability and extremism.
In order to decrease its dependence on imported energy, Hungary aims to diversify its energy imports and increase the share of energy generated domestically. Nuclear energy presents an indispensable option to generate cheap energy, and the project to sustain capacity at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant will ensure that Hungary’s dependence on imported natural gas will not increase in the future.
Parallel to the Greek sovereign debt crisis, another debt crisis has threatened the EU. The Swiss National Bank’s decision in January 2015 to abandon the exchange-rate cap against the euro, sending shock waves through several central European countries. Following the decision, the value of the Swiss franc jumped, trading on average at a rate 20 percent higher against central European currencies. The dramatic increase shook the mortgage markets, touching hundreds of thousands of families in the region.
Since 2004, Hungary has been a recipient of a program called the EEA and Norway Grants, financial contributions offered by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein intended to strengthen bilateral relations and reduce economic and social disparities in certain EU countries.
“Take the reduction of household utility bills. It had been universally accepted that there can be no such thing: household utility bills cannot be reduced, they can only be increased. We said that this is not impossible, we would do it – and we did it.” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, January 14, 2016