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After protest, two Sunday closing referenda may be allowed

History

Following claims that thugs interfered with the democratic process of filing for a referendum to oppose the Sunday closings law, the National Election Board (NVB) ruled in favor of making an exception to accept two referenda, according to reports. 

Socialist MP István Nyakó (center rear) at the NVI offices on February 23. (Photo: MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)

Both referenda refer to the law requiring most stores to close on Sundays in Hungary, which went into effect last year. One question calls for revoking the law, which has proven unpopular in polls, but the other referendum would support the law, and essentially sidetrack efforts at revocation.

On Tuesday, opposition Socialists organized a demonstration outside of the NVI offices after Socialist MP István Nyakó’s referendum question on the Sunday closings laws was disqualified pursuant to a regulation that only allows one referendum question on a given issue to be handled at a time. Earlier that day, an elderly woman, who is said to be the wife of a former Fidesz mayor was reportedly escorted by a dozen or so heavy-set men with shaved heads to ensure that the woman was the first in line to submit her referendum question, ahead of the Socialist MP, thereby disqualifying Nyakó’s claim.

After a five day investigation of the issue, NVI chief Ilona Pálffy determined that, despite regulations which state that only one referendum question may be submitted on a given issue, she has decided to make an exception in this case and accept both questions. 

The evaluation of the issue now rests with the National Election Committee (NVB), under the jurisdiction of the NVI. The NVB is scheduled to meet today to discuss this as well as Nyakó’s grievance regarding the aggressive manner in which he was prevented from submitting his referendum question by a threatening group of men, according to reports.

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