Saturday, October 1, 2016

Voter abstention threatens to derail Hungary referendum on EU migrant quotas

The Hungarian prime minister on Saturday was trying to mobilize the electorate ahead of a referendum on refugee resettlement quotas for European Union countries.

Viktor Orban's government needed to ensure sufficient voter turnout for Sunday's referendum results to be valid.

An overwhelming majority of voters was tipped to vote "no" on the question: "Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?"

Several polls have indicated a voter turnout of less than 50 percent, with the high level of abstention threatening the validity of the result.

Orban's conservative government is pushing for a "no" outcome, while the center-left opposition is calling on voters not to go to the polls at all.

Beyond the Central European nation, human rights organizations have criticized the referendum, declaring it a way of criminalizing refugees.

The Orban government opposes the migrant resettlement system proposed by the European Commission, which requires Hungary to accept at least 1,300 asylum seekers in a country of 10 million inhabitants.

Until now, Hungary has not resettled any of its refugee quota and has taken a harsh stance against the migration crisis facing Europe.

The PM has defended his country's construction of walls along its borders in the south as a measure to prevent migrant entry.


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