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Jobbik proposes referendum to keep Hungary in the EU

August 10th, 2022

While most parties reject the idea of a referendum on Hungary’s EU membership, a left-wing commentator deems it useful.

On Sunday, Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi announced his plan to propose a referendum asking for a parliamentary resolution to defend Hungary’s membership in the European Union. On Monday, Jobbik leader Márton Gyöngyösi handed in his question for authorisation to the National Electoral Committee. His initiative is for a law that would bar Parliament from initiating Hungary’s exit from the EU. Mr Ujhelyi then withdrew his initiative. The government responded that it has absolutely no intention to withdraw Hungary from the Union and therefore a referendum on the issue would make no sense.

In Népszava, Péter Németh dismisses fears voiced by opposition parties that the referendum would put Huxit, i.e. Hungary’s exit from the EU, on the agenda. He quotes a recent survey that showed an overwhelming majority of respondents in favour of continued EU membership. If the opposition worries that such sweeping support for the EU can be overturned, Németh argues, then it has simply no trust in itself. He doesn’t exclude the possibility that the government will one day want to lead Hungary out of the EU and therefore calls on the opposition to support the idea of a referendum and show that it is ‘able to stand up in support of the will of six million people”.

In Magyar Nemzet, political scientist Ervin Nagy deems the initiative senseless, since no important player wants to terminate Hungary’s membership. He sees the idea of such a referendum as a means for the initiators to strengthen their own position within the opposition. The pro-government analyst also thinks that such a referendum would be unconstitutional, since although it formally aims at compelling Parliament to pass a resolution, in substance it would be about Hungary’s Union membership – and the law explicitly forbids referenda on international agreements.

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