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Hungarian voters overwhelmingly reject EU migrant quotas, but referendum invalid


10-03-2016 08:15 BJT

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BUDAPEST, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- With 98.56 percent of the ballots counted, 98.28 percent of the Hungarian voters chose the "no" option Sunday in a government-sponsored referendum on whether to accept the European Union (EU)'s scheme for migrant quotas, the National Elections Bureau reported, leading the government to claim victory.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the important part of the vote was to learn the opinions of people and the huge portion of voters choosing the "no" option clearly demonstrated the will of the people.

Gergely Gulyas, deputy chief of the ruling party Fidesz, said he believed Orban had received a clear mandate.

However, since ballot validity would have required 50 percent of eligible voters and in Sunday's referendum only 39.8 percent cast valid ballots, the left-wing opposition, which called for a boycott, has also claimed the win.

Ferenc Gyurcsany, chair of the DK party called on Orban to resign, while Gyula Molnar, chair of the MSZP party said that the invalid vote was merely an expensive public opinion poll. He called the referendum illegitimate and demanded that parliament investigate the huge amount of money that went into the advertising campaign.

Viktor Szigetvari, chief of the Egyutt Party said the outcome was proof that the people weren't ready to accept a hate campaign, no matter how intensive.

Even the right-wing Jobbik Party chairman Gabor Vona, who had supported the referendum, also called on Orban to resign.

The referendum question was: "Do you want the European Union to be able to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?" Voters had the option of choosing between "yes" and "no."

In all, nearly 400,000 migrants passed through Hungary last year, en route to Western Europe, mainly to Germany.

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