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NGO encourages invalid voting on refugee referendum

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO, is encouraging Hungarian voters to participate in October’s referendum, but to hand in invalid votes, to demonstrate opposition to the government’s stance on refugees, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

The referendum, planned by the Hungarian government for October 2, will give citizens the opportunity to express opposition to the European Commission’s plan to make member states take a certain quota of refugees. Hungarian citizens will be asked to answer the following question: “Do you want to allow the European Union to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the approval of parliament?” 

Opposition politicians have said voters should stay home on the day of the vote, as an insufficient turnout would make the vote invalid.

The Helsinki Committee asked Hungarians who oppose this referendum to show up for the vote, but to put an X in both the “yes” and “no” boxes, which will not raise the number of votes but will show opposition to the question, according to the committee.

The Helsinki Committee explained that the question is “invalid”, and therefore required an “invalid” answer. The committee calls the referendum an “untrue and harmful political maneuver”, saying the question is not only harmful to refugees but also Hungarian citizens, since it threatens the country’s cooperation with the European Union and contributes to deterioration of “social solidarity” at the same time.