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“PM Orbán Should Resign” – Opposition Reactions To Sunday’s Migrant Quota Referendum

By Tamás Székely // 2016.10.03.

While the ruling parties rather put the emphasis on the high number and percentage of the “no” votes in Hungary’s migrant quota referendum, the opposition parties slammed the government and the Prime Minister over the “pointless” referendum,  highlighting the fact that it is still invalid. Furthermore, the left-wing Socialist Party (MSZP) and Democratic Coalition (DK) parties have regarded those who did not turn out to vote as their own supporters.

Radical nationalist Jobbik leader Gábor Vona described  Hungary’s migrant quota referendum as a “personal failure” for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. “This game is played for goals, and despite the advantage enjoyed by the prime minister and [ruling] Fidesz, Orbán scored a huge own goal,” Vona told a press conference. Vona said the government should not try to explain away the results of the referendum but should rather just admit that they had “failed”. The Jobbik leader reiterated his call for Orbán to resign. He said that the Hungarians who voted in the referendum had not sent a message to Brussels but to the prime minister instead. Referring to migration, Vona said that “there has not been any issue over the past 26 years supported by such a strong social consensus.” Brussels, however, would only focus on whether the referendum was valid or invalid, and would use its outcome “ruthlessly” against Hungary, he said. Vona said the most important task now was to amend the constitution so as to protect Hungary from migrant quotas. In response to a question, Vona said it was highly unlikely that Orbán would resign. “In legal terms Orbán is still Hungary’s prime minister, but in political terms it appears he no longer is,” he said.

Any move the government takes based on an invalid referendum on European Union migrant quotas would be “unconstitutional”, Gyula Molnár, leader of the opposition Socialist Party (MSZP), said after polls closed. He called the referendum campaign “one of the low points” in Hungary’s history since the democratic transition in 1989/90. No governing party has ever run such a “shameful, deceitful and unlawful hate campaign”, he said, calling the referendum a “very expensive opinion poll”. Molnár also announced that his party would initiate setting up a parliamentary investigative committee to probe government spending on the referendum, which he insisted had a budget of 17 billion forints (EUR 55.1m).

Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), commenting on preliminary voter turnout data, said: “We won”. He said “Orbán’s referendum” was invalid, giving the “democratic opposition” an “undisputed” victory over the government and ruling Fidesz. “Orbán took a gamble with the migrant quota referendum but suffered a major loss,” the former prime minister said, calling for the Prime Minister to resign. “Not only did the country win the referendum, but the democratic opposition also won it,” he insisted. Gyurcsány said the left wing had waited ten years for a real victory and this had happened on Sunday. He also insisted that in a “normal, democratic country” the government head would have to resign in such circumstances. He said the job of the so-called “democratic opposition” was to change the currency of victory in the referendum into a force fit to win the 2018 general election. He added this would require “responsible negotiations and electoral cooperation”. Gyurcsány said he would like to start talks with other “democratic opposition” parties next week.

An invalid referendum on European migrant quotas will weaken the government’s position in its talks abroad on migration, the green opposition LMP said. “Not only will the government come out weaker from the situation that it created, but so will the country,” co-leader Bernadett Szél said. Leaders of the opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party told supporters gathered in front of Parliament on Sunday that “Orbán’s politics of hate” had failed. Citing low turnout, Tímea Szabó, the party’s co-leader, insisted that “Viktor Orbán’s inhumane and heartless government will fall”. “This day has only one loser, and that is Hungary,” Gábor Fodor, leader of the Hungarian Liberal Party, said, commenting on the results of Hungary’s migrant quota referendum. Fodor said that the “xenophobia” stirred up in Hungarian politics over the past year would not fade away. Fodor said the ruling Fidesz party bore a high degree of responsibility in this.

via and MTI photos: MTI