Hungary speaks: Referendum held on whether refugees should enter


By Malavika Venkatesh |

In 2015, more than a million refugees from war-torn countries sought asylum in Europe. Since then, the EU has been addressing the issue of how to sustain the influx of migrants.

On Oct. 2, a referendum was held in Hungary, to decide whether 160,000 refugees should relocate to the nation to ease the number of refugees in other countries like Greece and Italy. The EU has put in place this mandatory quota of relocating migrants. The ballot asks Hungarian citizens, “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?”

Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban does not want refugees entering the country, and Hungary has criminalized illegal entry and blocked off its borders with Serbia and Croatia by building a razor-wire fence. Earlier this year, Hungary passed a law allowing refugees detained within 8 km of Hungary’s southern frontier to be sent back to Serbia. The Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Janos Lazar issued a statement saying, “We shall not take anyone in in Hungary, we do not need immigration in Hungary.”

The referendum ended in a landslide. Over 98 percent of voters voted in favor of the government. Voters were against migrants entering the country.  

However, the referendum may be invalid, as less than 50 percent of the electorate voted. The government also provided state funds to media outlets to campaign and spread their position. The country has been criticized for the way they carried out the campaign and the way the ballot question was worded.

The impact of the referendum on European nations and migrants is yet to be seen.

Information compiled from the following sources:

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