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Oct 05, 2016

Hungary's heated referendum exchange on CNN

The 3.3 million "no" voters constitute one of the strongest mandates of any vote -- in a referendum or any popular election -- in Hungary since 1989

Hungarian Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács had an animated exchange with a former US ambassador to Hungary and CNN host Christiane Amanpour earlier this week.

The exchange concerned Hungary’s Sunday referendum on the EU’s proposed compulsory refugee quota scheme.

Kovács said that the Hungarian cabinet initiated the referendum because illegal immigration was not among the topics of the national elections in 2014.

With over 98 percent of those casting a  valid vote rejecting the scheme, the referendum proved to be not legally binding, meaning that the National Assembly is not obliged to approve a law to its effect, Kovács said.

However, though it fell short of the 50 per cent+1 threshold, 3.3 million voters approved the cabinet’s migrant policies – 1.1 milion more than the number that granted the government a second term in 2014.

The 3.3 million "no" voters constitute one of the strongest mandates of any vote -- in a referendum or any popular election -- in Hungary since 1989. Rarely have so many Hungarian voters turned out to cast a ballot in support of one cause as they did in Sunday's referendum.

However, Kounalakis claimed that the referendum’s result of 98 percent in favor of one option is highly unusual in democracies, pointing out that the majority is higher than what the late Yugoslav leader Tito achieved in 1945.

The 60 percent of voters who simply did not turn out to vote, including a few thousand who spoiled their ballot, she claimed, were expressing opposition to the referendum and proves that the majority of Hungarians do not want to leave the EU.

However, the Hungarian government has always stated that they do not wish to leave the EU.