Domestic Politics

Fidesz Hopeful On Two-Thirds Majority As PM Eyes Constitutional Ban On “Group Resettlements”

A constitutional amendment backed by the ruling Fidesz party will seek to introduce four changes to Hungary’s Fundamental Law, PM Viktor Orbán announced on Tuesday. The results of the referendum have created a “new cross-party bloc” in Hungary, which regards the protection of sovereignty a national issue, he told a press conference in the Parliament building. The 3.3 million people who voted “no” included one million who probably support other parties, which shows that this was a national issue, 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.”

Four changes to the Constitution

The proposed changes in 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, and 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 on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister also expressed hope that his proposed amendments to the constitution would get the required two-thirds majority in Parliament. The premier said he believed that lawmakers would “move along the right scenario”. He added that a 50% turnout in the referendum would have validated “voters’ voices in themselves,” but at 43% 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% 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 for 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, told the same press conference.

Party reactions:

Ruling Fidesz hopes to have its proposal for a constitutional amendment in light of the referendum result on European Union migrant quotas passed with “a decisive majority” of lawmakers, the party’s deputy leader said. Parliament is not bound by the outcome to legislate but it has the power to do so, Gergely Gulyás said. Fidesz is working to form “national unity” on the issue of mandatory EU migrant quotas, said Gulyás, adding that it would become clear who supported and who rejected the scheme.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party will support a constitutional amendment aimed to enhance Hungary’s security, party leader Gábor Vona said. “After six months wasted, 15 billion forints of public money spent and a failed and invalid referendum, PM Viktor Orbán has realised that Jobbik has been right from the very beginning,” Vona said, commenting on Orbán’s announcement of the planned amendment. He added that Orbán’s proposal was identical with Jobbik’s earlier initiative. As a party dedicated to issues concerning the nation, Jobbik will take part in the five-party talks initiated by Fidesz, Vona said.

The opposition Socialists (MSZP) said the ruling Fidesz party’s proposal to amend the constitution is illegitimate, and warned Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party not to use an invalid referendum for justifying a decision which affects the future of ten million people. Reacting to Orbán’s announcement of plans to amend the constitution in four points, Socialist group leader Bertalan Tóth said that Orbán and Fidesz had not got an authorisation from the majority of voters in Sunday’s referendum on migrant quotas as 5 million people decided not to participate. Fidesz should not ignore people who expressed their opinion by staying at home, he said.

The left-wing Democratic Coalition (DK) said it would stay away from the parliamentary debate and vote about a planned constitutional amendment backed by ruling Fidesz and called on all opposition parties to follow suit. In response to PM Viktor Orbán’s announcement, DK’s deputy leader Csaba Molnár said the message of Sunday’s invalid referendum on EU migrant quotas was clear: Hungarians did not give an authorisation to Orbán for any form of legislation concerning migration. Those who participate in the planned constitutional amendment will go against the will of the public, he insisted. If the constitutional amendment puts Hungary’s EU membership at risk, “we will call democrats out to the streets to put pressure on a government that betrays national interests”, Molnár said.

The referendum against the European Union’s migrant quotas and a planned constitutional amendment announced by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will not solve problems connected to migration, the green opposition LMP party’s spokesman said. Commenting on the planned amendment, József Gál said LMP will not participate in a “political farce” that only serves to enable the government to sweep important issues such as health care, poverty, emigration, labour shortage and widespread corruption under the carpet.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: Zsolt Szigetváry – MTI