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MSZP’s fluid position on the quota referendum

September 5th, 2016

Commentators still find plenty of food for thought and irony in MSZP Chairman Gyula Molnár’s announcement that he is ready to support the government in rejecting compulsory quotas, while asking Socialist voters to boycott the referendum.

Mr Molnár reminds Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer of the protagonist of an old Soviet joke. Marshall Budionny is represented in this anecdote as a clumsy strategist who illustrates his war plan by aligning 10 potatoes on the ground. This is the kind of stratagem the Socialist Party chairman has put forward about how to face the referendum, Bayer thinks. The everyday Socialist voter, he continues, doesn’t want to see migrants in the streets of Budapest, and deeply dislikes Mr Orbán. Now what he hears from his party chairman is that although he doesn’t want to see migrants in the city he should abstain from voting. On the other hand although he dislikes Mr Orbán, his party chairman is ready to back the Prime Minister. That kind of duplicity doesn’t make too much sense to the commentator. Meanwhile he admits that Mr Molnár would find it difficult to say anything that makes sense. After all he could hardly encourage his voters to turn up at Mr Orbán’s referendum. The only problem is that now the simple Socialist voter is staring at the line of potatoes on the ground and doesn’t understand what it’s all about.

In Népszabadság, Marxist philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás believes that Mr Molnár is beating about the bush instead of taking a consistent position on immigration. In order to avoid the trap of taking a position on compulsory migrant quotas, the philosopher suggests that Hungary should unilaterally volunteer to receive 20,000 migrants. Since Austria is planning to receive 35,000, Tamás thinks 20,000 is the absolute minimum Hungary should take in, as a gesture to save the country’s honour. He thinks democratic constituencies should be organised, who should convince first local councils, the churches and NGOs, who then should persuade Parliament to act accordingly.


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