Oct 05, 2016

PM Orbán announces changes to constitution

The proposed changes include: A clear statement on preventing Brussels from ordering the resettlement of migrants to Hungary and a ban on mandatory group resettlements

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced plans to make a number of changes to Hungary's Fundamental Law.

The constitutional amendment, backed by the ruling Fidesz party, will seek to introduce the changes to the Fundamental Law for the greater good of the Hungarian people.

The move follows a resounding 3.3 million "no" votes in the historic referendum on Sunday.

The "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.

The 3.3 million people who voted “no” included roughly one million who support other parties, which proves this was a national issue, PM Orbán said, adding that  “these people did not vote against migrants or the European Union, but for the appropriate handling of a modern-age wave of migration".

Due to the overwhelming results of the referendum a “new cross-party bloc” has been created in Hungary, which regards the protection of sovereignty a national issue, the prime minister said. 

The proposed changes to the Hungarian Constitution include:

A clear statement on preventing Brussels from ordering the resettlement of migrants to Hungary under a resolution without the consent of the Hungarian parliament.

A ban on mandatory group resettlements.

A declaration that the resettlement of people without the right to free movement and stay in Hungary can only take place on the basis of individual requests assessed by the Hungarian authorities in procedures outlined in Hungarian laws enacted by parliament.

The proposed changes will be reviewed in a cabinet meeting today and will be revealed in full upon approval by the Cabinet.

The prime minister also expressed hope that his proposed amendments would get the required two-thirds majority needed in Parliament.

The PM said that he believed lawmakers would “move along the right scenario”.

He added that a 50 percent turnout in the referendum would have validated “voters’ voices in themselves,” but following the 43 percent turnout parliament needs “to give an extra push”.

A referendum and a constitutional amendment together offer a stronger position than a referendum alone, he said, adding that he “cannot imagine that Brussels would decide against a majority of 98 percent of people”.

The Hungarian government will submit the proposed amendments to parliament by October 10, a debate would be scheduled for October 17 and a vote on November 8. The amendments may take force by mid-November.

Five-party talks will also be held on the issue, Lajos Kósa, the head of Fidesz’s parliamentary group, said.