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Oct 03, 2016

3.3 million vote 'no' in Hungary's referendum

PM Orbán announces a modification to the Fundamental Law in order to acknowledge Hungary's resounding "no" vote in the historic referendum

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced a modification to the Fundamental Law in order to acknowledge Hungary's resounding "no" vote in the historic referendum.

Following an unprecedented victory of the government’s position in the referendum held to block the EU's forced migration quotas, the prime minister declared that the government will modify the Fundamental Law to “present and register the people’s will”.

With 99.98 percent of the votes counted, 3.3 million voted “no” on the EU’s proposed quota system, 220,000 voted invalidly and 55,000 voted “yes” across the country.

“That means that 9 people out of 10 sided with the government’s position that the decision on relocation of non-Hungarians should be kept a national competence," the prime minister said.

Today's 3.3 million "no" voters constitute one of the strongest mandates of any vote -- in a referendum or any popular election --  in Hungary since 1998. Rarely have so many Hungarian voters turned out to cast a ballot in support of one cause as they did in today's referendum.

Prime Minister Orbán reaffirmed that Europe's foundation is democracy and the question is easy: Can Brussels impose its will on a member state in which more than 90 percent of the participants in a referendum are against it.

“We will be well armed in Brussels as well," the prime minister said of the referendum.

Hungary's history of referenda turnouts hasn't been a successful one. In all but two of the country’s referenda since 1989, less than 50 percent of the eligible voters showed up at the polling stations.

PM Orbán earlier this week indicated that he would be disappointed if the turnout is lower than 100 percent, because people should express their will in issues that define the country’s future.

Although a higher turnout would have made the decision legally binding, the unanimous will of 3.254.944 people is politically binding, the PM emphasized.

Compared to the referendum on Hungary joining the EU in 2003, just over 3 million people voted for Hungary becoming a member. Participation in this referendum was 15 percent higher than in the last vote on members of the European Parliament (in 2014).

Analysts point out that the number of people supporting the government’s cause in this referendum is significantly higher than the number of people voting for the government in 2014.