Hungarian Parliament rejects amendment on quotas

Elections

The Hungarian Parliament today voted against a draft amendment to the Fundamental Law (constitution), submitted by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which would have set in stone the governmentʼs rejection of the European Union’s refugee settlement quotas, according to reports.

The Hungarian Parliament today during the vote (photo: MTI/Tamás Kovács).

The amendment was submitted after Hungary’s referendum on the issue of EU refugee settlement quotas produced an invalid result on October 2.

A two-thirds majority was required for the passing of the seventh change to the Hungarian Fundamental Law, but only members of the governing parties voted in support of the change, two votes less than the two-thirds majority needed. The draft amendment was rejected with 131 votes in favor, with three voting against and 65 abstaining. 

Fidesz would have needed the votes of the far-right Jobbik, a party that has also come out against the quotas, to push the change through Parliament. However, Jobbik had given an ultimatum to the government to stop selling residency bonds to foreigners. Although Fidesz hinted that it might stop selling the bonds, it said the matter would not be discussed until next week.  Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga has since said that the sales of bonds should not be halted.

Despite Hungaryʼs invalid referendum on the EUʼs planned refugee quotas, Orbán handed in an amendment proposal to legitimize the result of the referendum. Despite the referendum failing to reach the 50% plus one vote threshold of participation required for it to be declared valid, Fidesz claimed success because a huge majority of the approximately 45% of electors who did take part in the referendum supported the governmentʼs position.

A Reuters report noted today that Jobbik "held out a lifeline to Orbán" by saying it would still support the amendment if he scrapped the scheme allowing foreigners to buy residency rights. The report noted that the Fidesz presidency would meet to discuss its next move, but observed that "backing down to Jobbik would be politically difficult, as Orbánʼs chief of staff has previously described its demand as blackmail."

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