Feb 24, 2016

PM Orbán announces referendum on EU's compulsory migrant resettlement quotas

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke to the Budapest press corps, February 24, to announce that the government will hold a referendum on the compulsory resettlement quotas issued by the European Union.

“We, Hungarians, believe," the prime minister said, "and I am convinced that the Government was yielding to the general desire of the public when it chose to call a referendum – that introducing compulsory resettlement quotas without the  consent of the people is nothing less than an abuse of power.”

The following is an English translation of the complete transcript of the prime minister's statement to the press:

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. 

I am speaking to you today because at its meeting which began this morning the Government adopted a number of decisions, and I think that one of them merits your early attention. The Government has adopted a decision on calling a referendum on the compulsory resettlement quotas. It will perhaps be simplest if I first read out this decision. 

“Government Resolution No. 2004/2016 on the initiation of a national referendum

1. Acting according to the powers granted it in Article 8(1) of the Fundamental Law, the Government hereby initiates a national referendum on the following question: “Do you agree that the European Union should have the power to impose the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of the National Assembly of Hungary?”

2. The Prime Minister hereby calls upon his Head of Cabinet to submit the question in Section 1 to the National Election Commission on behalf of the Government, for the purpose of its verification.”

I wish to inform you that this has duly been done. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

This means that the Government takes the view that the right to decide on the compulsory resettlement quotas may not be taken away from the Hungarian parliament. No one other than ourselves – that is, the elected members of the Hungarian parliament – may decide on this issue. 

Without beating about the bush, it is also widely known that the Hungarian parliament rejects the compulsory resettlement quotas. This therefore means that those who reject the compulsory resettlement quotas and protest against them – in other words, those who will vote against them – will in fact be simultaneously rejecting the compulsory settlement of migrants in Hungary and standing up for Hungary’s sovereignty.

If you will allow me, I would like to add a few explanatory sentences related to the Government’s decision. 

First of all, we are convinced that the path which the Hungarian government has chosen to follow – the path leading to a referendum – is a European solution; it is a feature of European politics, and therefore we wholeheartedly recommend it to others also. The Government believes that democracy is one of Europe’s core values, and the European Union is also based on the foundations of democracy. This means that we may not adopt decisions – those which significantly change people’s lives and also determine the lives of future generations – over the heads of the people, and against the will of the European people. The quotas would redraw the ethnic, cultural and religious map of Hungary and of Europe. The Hungarian government takes the view that neither the EU, nor Brussels, nor the leaders of Europe have the authority to do this; in fact, there is no European body or agency of any kind which has been vested with such authority. 

To date no one has asked the European people whether they want, accept or reject the introduction of compulsory quotas. We Hungarians believe – and I am convinced that the Government was yielding to the general desire of the public when it chose to call a referendum – that introducing compulsory resettlement quotas without the  consent of the people is nothing less than an abuse of power. Therefore we shall ask the people of Hungary about this question, just as we asked them about Hungary’s accession to the European Union.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

These are the considerations and arguments according to which the Government has initiated a referendum.

Thank you for your attention.