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Oct 02, 2016

PM Orbán on referendum: What's most important is that there be more “No” votes than “Yes” votes

According to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the most important question in Sunday’s quota referendum is whether there will be more “No” votes than “Yes” votes. If this is the case – meaning “No” wins – there will be legal consequences, regardless of the turnout, the prime minister said.

PM Orbán was speaking to reporters – including several foreign journalists – after casting his vote at Zugliget Elementary School in Budapest’s District XII. Mr. Orbán arrived at the polling station with his wife Anikó Lévai shortly after half past eight in the morning. He told reporters that he is counting on there being more “No” votes than “Yes” votes, and said that this will provide Parliament and the Government with a strong enough mandate.

“A valid referendum is always better than an invalid one, but the legal consequences will be the same regardless of this, because we promised that we will enact the legislation related to the question: that on the subject of who the people of Hungary want to live with, only the Hungarian parliament may make a decision and incorporate it into legal system.” He explained that “We shall do this whether the referendum is valid or not. There is only one condition for this: that there are more ‘No’ votes than ‘Yes’ votes”.

Mr. Orbán did not rule out the possibility of a constitutional amendment, but said that he did not see this as the most important task for the future; instead he said that, following a suitable outcome, this task would be his negotiations with Brussels, in which he would say that “it should not be mandatory to admit into Hungary people whom we do not want, and the decision should remain with us”. He added that “If the European Union is a democratic community, then it must accept the opinion of Hungarians”.

Referring to the fact that Hungary is the first country in the EU to hold a referendum on the issue, Mr. Orbán said that “we are proud of the fact that we are the first”, and that he will be glad if others follow suit. The Prime Minister also said that the Government will be launching multi-party discussions in Hungary about how the will of the people should be integrated in Hungarian legislation.

The Prime Minister also told the press that on Saturday he had personally taken part in telephone campaigning for the referendum, and had spoken to many “sympathetic and perceptive voters who fully understood the importance of the issue”. When asked whether he would resign if the “Yes” vote wins, Mr. Orbán replied in the affirmative.