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Further debates on immigration

March 7th, 2016

Pro-government and conservative columnists welcome the referendum on mandatory quotas, claiming that national sovereignty and identity are at stake. Left-wing and liberal analysts think the referendum is a stunt, and may eventually even be considered as a decision on Hungary’s EU membership.

On Tuesday, the National Electoral Commission passed the government’s referendum bid on migrant quotas. According to a survey published by the Nézőpont Institute, 80 per cent of Hungarians oppose mandatory quotas, with only 4 per cent approving. Even 55 per cent of left-wing voters are against the quota system.

In Magyar Hírlap, Imre Boros welcomes the government’s referendum on migrant quotas. The conservative economist believes that the mandatory admission of migrants proposed by Germany and the EU serves ‘neoliberal’ interests and is intended to further curb Hungary’s sovereignty. Thus the government is right to turn to the people and get their support in its battle against the quotas, Boros concludes.

Magyar Idők’s Dávid Megyeri accuses the “neoliberal axis” of Brussels, Berlin and Athens of “trying to change the ethnic composition of Europe”. Referenda on the migration quota can help European nations reclaim power from EU bureaucracy and Germany, Megyeri believes.

This is all about identity, András Bencsik writes in Magyar Demokrata. We have to choose between “a sovereign Europe and a barbarous dystopia of mixed masses,” the pro-government commentator argues. He praises PM Orbán as the defender of a culturally homogenous Europe against pro-migration ideologies.

The referendum is a bluff, Zoltán Lakner comments in Népszabadság. The left-wing political scientist thinks that Mr Orbán wants to flex his muscles and regain control of the public discourse by mobilizing voters. The referendum against mandatory quotas is a perfect tool for this, he suggests, as the vast majority of Hungarians oppose immigration. The referendum is also a headache for the left-wing parties, since they either embrace the pro-migrant view which is highly unpopular, or support the government’s agenda. The best they could do, Lakner suggests, is to boycott the referendum without taking sides on the issue of migration.

In 168 Óra, Tamás Mészáros accuses PM Orbán of “running amok”. The left-wing pundit finds it peculiar that the Hungarian Prime Minister accuses Brussels and Germany of threating European civilization by letting migrants in. Other than allowing refugees to die, what else can they do than offer them shelter?Mészáros wonders.

PM Orbán’s referendum is intended to weaken Europe and Angela Merkel, and at the same time, boost his popularity in Hungary, Magyar Narancs writes in a front page editorial. The liberal weekly predicts that Mr Orbán will use the referendum to cancel any negotiations with the EU concerning migration. Magyar Narancs goes so far as to suggest that the referendum can be seen as a referendum on Hungary’s EU membership.

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