“The Government has adopted a decision on calling a referendum on the compulsory resettlement quotas”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced at a press conference during a recess in today’s Cabinet meeting.
The Prime Minister told members of the press that the question to be put to the public in the referendum will be as follows: “Do you agree that the European Union should have the power to impose the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of the National Assembly of Hungary?” He added that his Head of Cabinet had already submitted the question to the National Election Commission for verification.
Mr. Orbán said “This means that the Government takes the view that the right to decide on the compulsory resettlement quotas may not be taken away from the Hungarian parliament. No one other than ourselves – that is, the elected members of the Hungarian parliament – may decide on this issue”.
The Prime Minister continued by saying that “it is also widely known that the Hungarian parliament rejects the compulsory resettlement quotas. This therefore means that those who reject the compulsory resettlement quotas and […] vote against them [in the referendum] will in fact be simultaneously rejecting the compulsory settlement of migrants in Hungary and standing up for Hungary’s sovereignty”.
The path which the Hungarian Government has chosen to follow – the path leading to a referendum – is a “European solution”; it is a feature of European politics, and therefore “we wholeheartedly recommend it to others also”, Mr. Orbán explained.
The Prime Minister cited democracy as one of Europe’s core values, noting that the European Union is also based on the foundations of democracy. “This means that we may not adopt decisions – those which significantly change people’s lives and also determine the lives of future generations – over the heads of the people, and against the will of the European people”, he declared, noting that “The quotas would redraw the ethnic, cultural and religious map of Hungary and of Europe”.
“The Hungarian government takes the view that neither the EU, nor Brussels, nor the leaders of Europe have the authority to do this […] [nor any] European body or agency of any kind”, the Prime Minister stated, also noting that “To date no one has asked the European people whether they want, accept or reject the introduction of compulsory quotas”.
Mr. Orbán justified the decision to call a referendum by stating that the Government is yielding to the general desire of the pubic. “I am convinced […] that introducing compulsory resettlement quotas without the consent of the people is nothing less than an abuse of power”, he stated, explaining that “we shall ask the people of Hungary about this question, just as we asked them about Hungary’s accession to the European Union”.
In reply to a question, Mr. Orbán also explained that this is a fundamental question which cannot be avoided, a question which constitutes the very essence of Hungarian politics: “whether anyone else may decide instead of the Hungarian people whom we Hungarians live together with and whom we do not live together with”. According to the Prime Minister the Government’s decision has a European context and, as with the British referendum, clearly reinforces the concept of an alliance of free states, as opposed to a United States of Europe.
In reply to a question on whether the Government would resign if the referendum was unsuccessful, the Prime Minister said that was a question which the Cabinet had not yet discussed.
(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, MTI)