The opposition Hungarian Liberal Party has urged supporters to “say yes to Europe and solidarity” by voting in favour of the European Union’s planned compulsory migrant resettlement quota system at the country’s popular referendum on 2 October.
Former ambassador and MEP István Szent-Iványi, the party’s foreign policy expert, said on public news channel M1 on Monday that taking part in the campaign and the referendum is the only way to stand up for European values, Hungary’s belonging to Europe and European solidarity. Those who “stand aside” are unable to protect these values, he said in reference to left-wing opposition parties, which have urged their supporters to stay away from the vote.
The Hungarian Liberal Party (pictured: the group’s foreign policy expert István Szent-Iványi) is the only opposition force to campaign in favour of the quota system
Mr. Szent-Iványi also criticised the government-initiated referendum for its “manipulative” question, arguing that “forced resettlement”, as the cabinet refers to the quota scheme, is “actually a non-existent legal notion in the European Union. The EU wants to take measures to distribute refugees, which only means that asylum procedures have to be carried out in the given country and does not equal resettlement, Mr. Szent-Iványi argued. The referendum carries a “very bad political message and makes cooperation between European nations more difficult”, he claimed.
The minor party, which only has a single MP in Parliament, is the only opposition group to actively campaign in favour of a “yes” vote as left-wing groups MSZP, Együtt, DK and PM have urged their supporters to stay away from the referendum, while the green LMP said that they leave the decision on whether to take part to their voters. The radical nationalist Jobbik said that it will actively campaign against the quota system and call upon its sympathisers to reject the scheme at the referendum.