Budapest (MTI) – Hungary’s political parties continued their campaigns for the Oct. 2 migrant quota referendum on Saturday with three civil groups joining the fray for the “no” camp that rejects the European Union redistribution scheme.
Ruling Fidesz once again called on the left-wing parties to clarify their position on the European Union’s planned quota scheme.
Zoltán Rozgonyi, the party’s group leader in Budapest’s 14th district local council, said it was “outrageous” that the Dialogue for Hungary party’s Gergely Karácsony, the district’s mayor, had put out posters campaigning for a boycott of the referendum.
Rozgonyi told a press conference that the Fidesz group earlier attempted to pass a declaration in the council urging voters to participate in the referendum, but it was blocked by the left-wing representatives. He said this demonstrated that neither the mayor nor the left wing were willing to adopt a position on migrant quotas. Nor do they consider it important for the citizens of the 14th district to express their opinion on this matter, he said, adding that the left wing would rather leave the decision on migrant quotas up to the EU. “This is unacceptable from self-declared democratic politicians,” he said.
Rozgonyi reiterated his party’s stance that the referendum was about the future and security of Hungarian families, adding that it was only Hungarians who could decide whom they want to live together with.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said that the referendum had now “truly” become devoid of purpose, arguing that EU leaders had agreed at the Bratislava summit on Friday “to strengthen joint border protection efforts and that there will not be any mandatory refugee quotas in the future”.
“Now there is really nothing to hold a referendum about. We already knew that [Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán’s pretend referendum is about his own political interests and not the refugee crisis,” MEP Csaba Molnár said. He called on the prime minister to call off the referendum so that Hungary can “save several billions of forints and avoid two weeks of hate-mongering”.
Green opposition LMP called for a uniform EU asylum procedure with a view to regulating immigration. Ferenc Gertsmar, the party’s spokesman, said the bloc should establish a new institutional system for assessing asylum requests which would serve as the central element of the new procedure.
Another important element of the system would be the establishment of EU hotspots for registering migrants, he said. LMP also supports setting up hotspots outside the EU’s territory with the use of EU funds, EU police and with help from the UN, Gerstmar said. These hotspots would make it possible to separate those who are eligible for asylum from those who are not, he added.
The LMP politician said joint EU action on the migrant crisis is impossible today because so many member states place third-party countries in different categories security-wise. The EU should also work out a uniform method for categorising third-party countries, he said.
Three conservative NGOs, the Hungarian Association for Civic Cooperation, the Alliance of Christian Intellectuals and the Batthyany Society of Professors, urged citizens to participate in the referendum and vote “no”. Gabor Naray-Szabo, president of the Batthyany Society of Professors, said they are campaigning for the “no” vote because it has become clear that migration is not a temporary problem but one that has the potential to determine Europe’s long-term future.
Zoltán Osztie, the president of the Alliance of Christian Intellectuals, said the migrant wave had been “thrust onto” Hungary by certain groups “whose goals are clearly to undermine traditionally Christian societies”. He said solidarity is a Christian value and that Hungary will admit genuine refugees. “But we have to say no to those who have been thrust onto us and who don’t look anything like refugees,” he said.
Judit Petneházy, the deputy head of the Hungarian Association for Civic Cooperation, said the association’s mission is to preserve Hungarian, national and European cultural values.