Hungary’s top court gives green light to migrant quota referendum

By bne IntelliNews May 3, 2016

Hungary’s supreme court - The Curia - gave the green light to a government application to hold a referendum on the EU’s migrant quota system on May 3.

While the recent scandal over the central bank’s spending and repeated strikes from teachers maintain pressure on Prime Minister Vikor Orban and the Fidesz government, the decision will give ruling party Fidesz another chance to try to regain control of the media agenda.

Orban’s hardline stance on immigration revived support through 2015. However, when the far-right Jobbik proposed a referendum on the EU's mandatory quota system for migrants in October, Fidesz was opposed. "The issue is connected to obligations arising from international treaties, thus it cannot be voted on at a referendum, according to the Fundamental Law,” the party's faction leader Lajos Kosa argued at the time.

Fidesz, however, expressed no such concerns when Orban announced a few months later his referendum plans. The question that will be put before voters translates as: “Do you want to allow the European Union to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the National Assembly?”

After the National Election Committee passed the question, it was brought before the Curia by opposition parties. The court ruled that the proposed referendum does not violate the constitution. The government-initiated proposal can be voted on by the parliament next week; Fidesz expects to hold the referendum in September.

Hungary has so far accepted none of the 1,294 refugees it was allocated to host under the EU relocation quota system. According to the Financial Times, the European Commission now plans to put forward a scheme that will impose fines - €250,000 per refugee - on countries that refuse to take refugees under revised EU asylum laws to be presented on May 4.

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