Big men prevent MP from filing referendum, spurring demo
Demonstrators gathered outside of the National Election Office (NVI) last night after a group of heavy-set bald men prevented an opposition member of Parliament from submitting a proposal for a referendum to kill the Sunday closing law, according to reports.
A demonstration organized by opposition Socialists party yesterday evening. (Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)
Opposition Socialist MP István Nyakó says his referendum call was disqualified because he could only submit a referendum question on the Sunday closings law to NVI after the woman, who is said to be the wife of a former Fidesz mayor.
The Socialist MP and the elderly woman were waiting at NVI yesterday, waiting for Hungary’s Supreme Court Curia to reject a previous referendum question on a law that came into effect last March 15 and restricts retailers from opening on Sundays. The MP and the woman both wanted to be the first to file their petitions for a referendum after the decision.
According to reports, a dozen or so heavy set men with shaved heads were present to ensure that the elderly woman was the first in line to submit her referendum question, ahead of the Socialist MP.
Given that the two initiatives reportedly address the same issue, the NVI can only consider the first submission, and is not required to process the second initiative submitted a few seconds later. This means that there will be no vote against the year-old Sunday closings law, which is very unpopular.
In response to the manner in which the submission was handled, opposition Socialists organized an impromptu demonstration in front of the NVI building yesterday evening, which was attended by a few hundred people, according to reports.
Opposition parties reportedly charged Hungary’s governing party Fidesz with influencing the outcome of the referendum question. Fidesz vice-president Gergely Gulyás said yesterday that the party is not in any way involved in the events that took place at the NVI office. Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said he was surprised by the events and expressed his dismay regarding the happenings, labeling them “outrageous”, according to reports.
As of March 15 one year ago, retailers have been restricted by law from opening on Sundays. A number of referendum questions have been submitted on the matter, but none have resulted in an actual referendum, according to reports. Opponents have said their efforts to call a referendum are being blocked by political maneuvering.
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