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Angela Merkel: Hungary’s Migrant Quota Referendum Will Not Influence EU Policies

By Ferenc Sullivan // 2016.07.06.

The national referendum to be held in Hungary on 2 October on the European Union’s planned mandatory migrant quota system will have no major effect on EU policies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed.

At a press conference in Berlin following discussions with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, the German leader said in response to a question that she has no fears that the quota referendum will lead to an increasingly divided EU. She explained that it has been known for a long time that Hungary is holding a referendum “on the question of refugees” and the most recent development – in which President of the Republic János Áder formally called the referendum – has been merely the disclosure of the exact date of the vote. The wording of the question put to the electorate reveals that the vote will be an “answer to the already prevailing governmental policies”, he said.

“The Hungarian Prime Minister’s opinion on refugees is also known and to this extent I expect no change in the present situation”, Ms. Merkel said.

The sister party of the German Chancellor’s conservative CDU has also reacted to the exact date of the referendum being disclosed. Gerda Hasselfeldt, leader of the parliamentary group of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) in the Bundestag, said in a Berlin statement that the referendum will “supposedly” not contribute to the strengthening of solidarity towards EU refugee policy.

The referendum will be held on the same day as presidential elections are scheduled to be repeated in Austria, following a Constitutional Court decision ruling that irregularities could have decisively influenced the outcome of the previous vote. Norbert Hofer, the candidate of the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic FPÖ party, stands a strong chance of claiming victory against his Green rival Alexander Van der Bellen, analysts claim.