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MSZP says ‘burly men’ prevented referendum initiative

February 25th, 2016

Commentators critical of the government round on Fidesz to accuse the governing party of sending men ‘who looked like bouncers’ to prevent a Socialist politician from depositing his bid for a referendum against the Sunday shopping ban. The two pro-government dailies also condemn the incident, but deny that Fidesz was behind it.

The Socialist Party failed to submit its referendum initiative for the third time in a row on Tuesday. The first attempt was rejected because the file was submitted by the Socialist member of the National Electoral Committee. The second time their man was deftly overtaken by an unknown woman who submitted a referendum question which was ultimately judged not being unequivocal and therefore rejected by the Kúria, the top court. Before that ruling was even posted on the Kúria website, former MSZP deputy István Nyakó arrived early on Tuesday morning to file his request for the abolition of the Sunday shop ban, but was met by a group of burly men. As the ruling appeared on the internet, he said, the men obstructed him for long enough to allow a later arrival, the wife of the independent mayor of Herceghalom, who was thus able to file her referendum bid first. It is thus her question that will be examined by the Electoral Committee. If it is accepted, she will have four months to collect the required 200 thousand signatures to put her question to the voters. The scene recorded on video by Index triggered an outpouring of angry comments by print and internet outlets.

In one of four (!) fiercely critical comments Mandiner carries on the subject, Gellért Rajcsányi says several ‘conspiracy theories’ come to mind, and one of them must be true. His problem is that ‘each is more despicable than the other’.

In Népszava, Jenő Veres calls the 23rd of February the darkest day in the history of ‘new Hungary’.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető accuses ‘those in power’ of having crossed a red line by preventing the exercise of a basic democratic right. He predicts ‘incalculable consequences’, but does not think that these will not seriously undermine PM Orbán’s government.

Magyar Hírlap quotes deputy Fidesz party chairman Gergely Gulyás who recalls that his party had to surmount a series of ‘cunning obstacles’ set by the left-wing administration eight years ago before it could strike a decisive blow to the already ailing Socialist government by initiating a referendum against its planned co-payment reforms in education and the public health system. Mr Gulyás denies any Fidesz involvement in Tuesday’s incident.

Magyar Idők describes what happened on Tuesday as a ’puzzling offence’ in which ’a referendum initiative was blocked by private security operatives’. At the same time, the pro-government daily suggests that the video recordings seem to corroborate Fidesz’s claim that the MSZP was seeking ‘a media scandal’ first and foremost. In fact, Magyar Hírlap claims, the recording proves that Mr Nyakó was not prevented from being the first to file his initiative.


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