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Debate over migration and quotas rolls on

August 26th, 2016

Pro-government commentators accuse the Hungarian Left of irresponsibility for not taking the dangers of migration seriously. A left-wing pundit accuses the government of using the migration crisis to further polarize the public. A conservative columnist thinks both sides are sending out simplistic messages in order to boost their popularity.

In an interview with Ruhr Nachrichten last week, Chancellor Merkel said that in September 2015, Germany opened its border to migrants in order to avoid a looming humanitarian crisis in Hungary. According to Nézőpont Intézet’s poll published on Wednesday, 68 per cent of Hungarians, including 51 per cent of left-wing sympathizers find the government’s migration policies appropriate, and 41 per cent of left-wing voters reject the EU quota system. Index.hu reported that since the beginning of the migration crisis last year, EU member states would have liked to return up to 52 thousand migrants to Hungary, as the country where they entered the Schengen Zone. Hungary refused to accept most of them. a claim Hungary denies. Hungary has admitted only a small number, on the the grounds that many had already passed through Greece, a Schengen zone country.

Magyar Idők’s Gyula Haraszti fears that Hungary and other Central European states may soon become a dual front line in the migration crisis. As Western European countries tighten their immigration rules in order to keep potential terrorists out, an increasing number of migrants will be returned to Hungary and other countries where they were first registered, the pro-government columnist believes. In light of this, he finds the Left’s endorsement of the EU migrant distribution quota irresponsible and absurd.

In Magyar Hírlap, Sándor Faggyas thinks that the European public is starting to realize the dangers of uncontrolled migration. Quoting the recent poll on Hungarian attitudes concerning the October 2 referendum, the conservative commentator remarks that the majority of Hungarians are satisfied with the Orbán government’s migration policies and even 41 we cent of left-wing voters reject a mandatory EU-wide migrant redistribution.

The Hungarian government has used the migration crisis in order to further polarize the Hungarian and European public, Róbert Friss writes in Népszava. Commenting on Chancellor Merkel’s interview, the left-wing pundit accuses the government of allowing the migration situation in Hungary to fester last year in order to force Germany and Austria to open their borders. By now, PM Orbán has become the icon of ruthless anti-immigrant policies in Europe, Friss contends.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsuzsanna Körmendy finds both Left and Right discourses in Hungary simplistic and ideologically tinted.  While left-wing and liberal parties ignore the security implications of uncontrolled migration, the government subordinates all other issues to its anti-immigration rhetoric, the conservative columnist suggests. As both sides use migration in this highly ideological and sectarian manner to increase their popularity, all other important political questions are left undiscussed, Körmendy fears.

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