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The referendum initiatives regarding the Budapest campus of China’s Fudan University and the extension of unemployment benefits have each garnered the required minimum number of 200,000 valid signatures, the National Election Committee (NVB) confirmed on Wednesday. The referendum initiatives were submitted by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony as a private individual.

This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. 

The referendum questions are aimed at preventing a campus of Fudan University from being built in Budapest and callsq for extending the jobseekers’ allowance to 270 days.

At least 200,526 valid supporting signatures were submitted for the referendum bid on the Fudan University campus, while at least 200,555 signatures were submitted for the one on the jobseekers’ allowance, the NVB said.

The mayor of Budapest and other opposition politicians submitted the signatures for the referendum collected on January 21, a total of about 470,000, and the electoral office began verifying the signatures on January 27, a process that has now been completed. The opposition wanted the referendum to be held on April 3, when people can vote on the general election and the government’s “child protection” referendum, but missed that opportunity due to various procedural and objection deadlines.

Despite Opposition's Demands, Referendum Not Likely to Be Held on Election Day
Despite Opposition's Demands, Referendum Not Likely to Be Held on Election Day

The election office has already begun the count, which they have 60 days to complete, adding to several other steps to be done before the president can eventually set the date. Continue reading

Mayor Gergely Karácsony commented on Facebook on Wednesday that the counting of signatures took longer than even the collection, which “can hardly be considered a non-intentional delay.” He added: “But the will of the people is making its way, there will be a real referendum on April 3, where we will decide about the student city and also about how to help our fellow citizens in need. On April 3, we will finally judge those who make their decisions over our heads thoughtlessly and stupidly!”


The Orbán government wants China’s Shanghai-based Fudan University to open its first foreign campus in Budapest in 2024. The Hungarian government would finance the project with Chinese loans. The so-called “student city” planned by the capital, which would provide accommodation and the associated infrastructure for 8,000 Hungarian students from the countryside on the former site of the Nagyvásártelep in the 9th district (which was also taken over by the opposition), could therefore not be built, as the also planned settlement of the Chinese university is to be built in the exact same place. However, this has been denied several times by government circles.

Although the opposition parties originally wanted to hold a national referendum on five issues, only the first and fifth issues were approved by the National Election Committee. These two questions are:

  • Do you agree that the National Assembly should repeal Law LXXXI of 2021 on the Fudan University Foundation of Hungary and the transfer of assets to the Fudan University Foundation of Hungary?
  • Do you think that the maximum duration of the unemployment benefit should be 270 days?

However, three other questions were not supported by the Election Committee:

  • Do you think that the operation of Hungarian highways should not be transferred to a company under a concession contract?
  • Do you agree that Hungary should join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office?
  • Do you agree that all people over 60 living in Hungary should be entitled to a free Corona test?

As we reported earlier, the opposition started collecting signatures in mid-December and submitted them on January 21st this year.

The referendum questions of the ruling parties had previously been approved by the Election Committee, which had been unsuccessfully challenged before the Constitutional Court. The printing of ballots for the government’s questions, referring to the Child Protection Law, has already begun.

The most likely scenario is that the referendum initiated by the opposition could take place sometime in October.

Sources: HVG, Index

In the featured photo: Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony with the collected signatures. Photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI

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