EU news and policy debates across languages


Hungarian constitution to ban relocation of migrants

Justice & Home Affairs

Hungarian constitution to ban relocation of migrants

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban 'lost' the referendum, but is changing the constitution.

[European People's Party/Flickr]

Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán yesterday (10 October) proposed constitutional changes aimed at banning the mass relocation of migrants, after voters backed his rejection of an EU refugee quota plan in a recent referendum.

“Foreign populations cannot be resettled in Hungary,” Orbán wrote in a package of proposed changes to the country’s constitution, published on the parliament’s website.

“Foreign nationals (not including EU nationals) can only live in Hungary on the basis of individually judged requests by the Hungarian authorities according to the legal provisions laid down by the parliament,” the text reads.

The other changes, due to be put to vote on 8 November, include the assertion that “the form and the structure of the state, the territory of the country and its people” belong to the “constitutional identity of the Hungarian nation”, which cannot be amended or overwritten by any external law.

Some 3.3 million Hungarians voted on 2 October against a European Union scheme seeking to share migrants around the 28-member bloc via mandatory quotas without the consent of national parliaments.

Orbán loses his referendum gamble, remains defiant

Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán suffered a blow yesterday (4 October) in his revolt against the European Union after low voter turnout voided his referendum aimed at rejecting a contested migrant quota plan.

The ballot was declared invalid because of low turnout, but 98% of those who voted rejected the EU proposal.

Orbán hailed the outcome as “a sweeping victory” in his populist revolt against Brussels and vowed to change the constitution to “reflect the will of the people”.

“This constitutional amendment rests on the will of the 98-% majority, 3.3 million people, more people than the voter base of any party in the quarter-century since the change of system (from communism),” the text read.

The amendment should pass with the required two-thirds parliamentary majority as it is likely to have the support of the radical right-wing Jobbik party.

Orbán’s hardline populist stance has drawn strong criticism from the EU, which on Monday also slammed the surprise suspension of Hungary’s main opposition newspaper on the weekend amid fears of a clampdown on press freedom.

Protests in Hungary after closure of main critical newspaper

Hungary’s largest broadsheet newspaper Népszabadság has stopped publication, with journalists and the opposition alleging government pressure.