The Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, on Wednesday granted its approval to referendum questions aimed at preventing property from being transferred to China’s Fudan University and at extending the job seekers’ benefit to a maximum 270 days.
The questions were two of five initiatives proposed by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony in July, and approved by the National Election Committee.
Later on, however, both questions were referred to the Kúria. The first one was challenged on the grounds that it was ambiguous and affected obligations stemming from an international agreement and the second one with the argument that the outcome would impact the central budget. Under Hungarian law, referendums cannot be initiated on subjects which would affect obligations stemming from an international agreement and ones that involve changes in public finance.
In its Wednesday ruling, the Kúria upheld the committee’s earlier approval of both questions.
Karácsony said in reaction that the signature drives for the referendum initiatives would begin in the coming days. The mayor said on Facebook that his Párbeszéd party plans to collect 200,000 supporting signatures before the end of the year “so that we can have a say on our future”.
Karácsony said referendums were not for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to
“pit people against each other with fake questions”, adding that “the word of the people is not his word”.
He said the opposition would not allow the government to “build a Chinese elite university” in an area designated for a student quarter. A referendum is needed so that the government could see that “the people need affordable dormitories for their children, not investments that serve Chinese interests and drive taxpayers into debt”, he added.