Budapest, June 28 (MTI) – A deputy leader of the opposition Socialists on Tuesday submitted over 200,000 signatures to the National Election Office (NVI) to initiate a national referendum on preventing the further sale of state-owned farmland.
The party has collected close to 240,000 signatures, well over the limit of 200,000 required by law for a nationwide referendum to be called by Hungary’s parliament, Zoltán Gőgös told a press conference at NVI’s headquarters in central Budapest. He thanked the opposition LMP, PM, Egyutt and Liberal parties, as well as independent lawmaker Zoltán Kész and trade unions for their help in collecting signatures.
The referendum will not only concern the issue of farmland sale but will be a vote “against ruling Fidesz and the government,” Gőgös said.
The referendum initiative was submitted by Gőgös at the beginning of this year with a view to asking the public if parliament should ban the sale of state-owned farmland by law.
Gőgös said that 10 percent, or 200,000 hectares, of Hungary’s 2 million hectares of state-owned farmland had already been auctioned off under the government’s privatisation programme.
The ruling Fidesz party responded by calling the Socialists’ referendum initiative “frivolous”. János Halász, spokesman for the party’s parliamentary group, told MTI that during the time it took the Socialists to collect “a little over 200,000 signatures” for their initiative, the Fidesz party managed to collect two million signatures in support of the referendum on the European Union’s migrant quota scheme. Halász said this made it clear that Hungarians consider migration and the quota plan the most important issues and that these are what they want to express their opinion on.
He said the election office would still have to review the signatures collected by the Socialists to validate them, noting that the leftist parties had failed to collect the required 200,000 signatures for a referendum on the introduction of a 2 million forint (EUR 6,310) cap on public officials’ salaries.
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