Hungary anti-burden sharing referendum
Hungary anti-burden sharing referendum being held today
A woman walks past a poster that reads “Let’s send a message to Budapest, so they also understand! A stupid answer to a stupid question! Cast an invalid vote! – in opposition to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s controversial migrant policies. Hungarians vote today in a referendum which Prime Minister Orban hopes will give his government the popular support it seeks to oppose any future plans by the European Union to resettle asylum seekers among its member states
Hungary is holding a referendum today against future European Union quotas for accepting asylum seekers, but the schemes already in place to ensure EU members take a fair share of the migrants reaching Europe are barely working.
In September last year the EU decided to move 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other European countries. Once relocated, refugees with a ‘high chance’ of being granted asylum would wait for a decision on their applications and, in the event of success, receive permission to settle in the country to which there had been relocated.
Under this system, Hungary would receive 1,294 asylumseekers and Slovakia 902. Both countries reject the mandatory quotas and are challenging the EU’s sharing scheme.
Malta is to receive 189 refugees under the burden-sharing plan.
The Hungarian government, contending that there is a direct link between migrants and terrorism, is seeking a popular mandate in today’s vote for its opposition to accepting any mandatory EU quotas for resettling asylum-seekers.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said Hungarians have “no problems” with the local Muslim community, but he believes any EU quotas to relocate asylum-seekers, including many Muslims, would destroy Hungary’s Christian identity and culture.
Orban hopes that a rejection of EU quotas in the referendum will be mimicked by others and force Brussels to reconsider the scheme. A poll taken in August by the Publicus Institute for the Vasarnapi Hirek newspaper found 35 per cent of the 1,000 people polled said it was obligatory to help refugees, down from 64 per cent in September 2015.
Some 5,600 Muslims live in Hungary, according to the 2011 census – the latest available.
On Friday, about 30 people took part in a ‘Muslims living among us’ walking tour in a Budapest neighbourhood, an effort to counter prejudice.
Government billboards and media ads have drawn a direct link between migration and terrorism, have warned Hungarians that millions more migrants may soon be heading for Europe and asserted that cases of harassment of women in Europe have risen greatly since the start of the migrant crisis.
Speaking last September at a meeting of Hungarian diplomats, Orban said the Muslims in Hungary were a “valuable asset” and he wanted to avoid causing “awkward situations, even at the verbal level” for them.