Orban preparing four changes to Hungarian constitution

By bne IntelliNews October 5, 2016

The Hungarian government plans to change four points in the country’s constitution to ensure Budapest cannot be forced to accept refugees, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on October 4.

The changes are to reflect the results of Hungary’s national referendum held on October 2, at which 3.3mn Hungarians - 98% of participants – voted "no" to the quota system. Although low turnout left the result invalid, the government insists it has a mandate to change the constitution anyway.

Orban argues that a 50% turnout "would have validated voter’s voices in themselves”, but with the lower, 43% turnout, the “parliament needs to give an extra push”.

Having lost its two-thirds majority last year, Fidesz will need the support of the far-right Jobbik to make the amendments. Gabor Vona, president of Jobbik, said that his party will support the amendment, adding, however, that Fidesz’ proposal is identical with Jobbik’s earlier initiative which was opposed by the governing party.

“We plan to amend the constitution on four points, including one stipulating that the collective settlement of people in Hungary shall be prohibited; such settlement shall only be permitted on the basis of individual requests,” Orban said at a press conference, according to MTI.

Fidesz plans to hold five-party talks on the issue, and submit the proposed amendments to parliament by October 10. The amendments may take force by mid-November.

It is yet to be seen how Brussels will react to the plan. "The preparation and the debate leading up to the vote on this amendment will likely be drawn out, and the eventual outcome will probably be controversial from either the human rights or EU law perspective,” Otilia Dhand at Teneo Intelligence wrote in a note.

At the same time, small opposition party DK reminded voters on October 4 that Orban had previously voted in favour of the EU's migrant quotas. In a letter sent to DK’s managing director Zsolt Molnar, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, confirmed that all prime ministers and heads of state – including Orban - unanimously adopted the resolution on the relocation of migrants last year, DK said in a statement.

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