Budapest (MTI) – Socialist Party deputy leader Zoltán Gőgös has failed to collect the required 200,000 valid supporting signatures for his initiative to hold a referendum on preventing the further sale of state-owned farmland, the head of the National Election Office (NVI) said on Friday.
Gőgös submitted 181,318 valid signatures, Ilona Pálffy said after the NVI’s final review of the signatures that were ruled invalid in the initial review last month.
The politician submitted a total of 27,989 signature-collection forms, 743 of which were rejected due to formal errors. On the forms that were approved, Gőgös submitted 226,300 signatures. However, 44,982 of them were declared invalid, mainly because the personal details provided by the signees did not correspond to their data in the voter registry.
Pálffy said at a meeting of the National Election Committee (NVB) that the guidelines for reviewing the signatures were put together based on the referendum law and the NVB’s directives.
She said it was not unusual to have 19.88 percent of the signatures submitted be declared invalid, as they were in this case. Pálffy noted that in a referendum initiated in 2008 by then-opposition Fidesz, the election office threw out between 19-20 percent of the signatures.
András Litresits, the Socialist Party’s delegate, proposed that the NVB should do another review of the signatures that were rejected. He also proposed that the committee should make changes to the way it reviews the signatures.
Gőgös told a press conference after the NVB’s meeting that no official body can go against the will of 220,000 voters. He said the Socialist Party would turn to the Kuria, Hungary’s top court, so that it can help enforce the will of the 20,000 voters “who the NVI couldn’t identify”. He said the question of the referendum on land sales was already decided on Thursday when government office chief János Lázár said parliament would pass a law officially declaring the end of the farmland auctions in September.
Under Hungary’s referendum law, if the number of supporting signatures collected falls between 100,000 and 200,000 the decision of whether or not to hold the referendum rests with parliament.