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Jul 05, 2016

Oct 2: Referendum on forced EU migrant quotas to go ahead

A turnout of at least 50 percent of the Hungarian people is needed for the referendum to be valid

Hungary will hold a referendum on October 2 seeking political support to oppose any European Union efforts to resettle refugees among its member states, according to the president's office.

President János Áder's office said that the question to be asked in the referendum will be: "Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?"

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that a "no" vote would be "in favor of Hungary's independence and rejecting the mandatory settlement plan."

Government officials welcomed Áder's decision, which came after all legal challenges to the referendum had been exhausted, reports AP today.

"Hungarian citizens ... can say whether they support or reject Brussels' immigration policy," said Antal Rogán, head of the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister. "We believe that only Hungarians, not Brussels, can decide who we want to live with in Hungary."

While the far-right Jobbik party said it would ask supporters to vote in rejection of the EU quotas, left-wing opposition parties called for a boycott of the referendum. Turnout of at least 50 percent is needed for the referendum to be valid.

Since a vast majority of Hungarians seem to oppose the migrant quotas, an invalid referendum, even if a majority of those voting support the government's position, could at least dilute the government's claim of success.

Hungary has already sued the EU at the European Court of Justice regarding an earlier plan to redistribute 120,000 asylum-seekers already in the bloc among its 28 countries.

Last year, nearly 400,000 refugees and other migrants passed through Hungary on their way west. The flow was greatly stemmed after October, when Hungary shut the razor-wire fences erected on its borders with Serbia and Croatia.