Orban’s migrant ban rejected
Hungary’s parliament. Source: Pixabay
Hungarian MPs have rejected the prime minister’s attempt to push through constitutional amendments opposing any EU plan to resettle migrants.
MPs voted 131 to three in favour of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s proposal, but his Fidesz party failed to secure any opposition support and fell two votes shy of the two-thirds majority of all 199 parliamentarians necessary. Opposition members largely abstained.
The far-right Jobbik party, which is part of the opposition but usually backs Fidesz on immigration issues, was crucial to the defeat of the amendment.
Gabor Vona MP, leader of Jobbik, said that his party would only support a solution that “defends Hungary and Hungarian people, not just from poor migrants but from rich migrants, not just from poor terrorists but from rich terrorists”.
He was referring to a rule that let foreigners who invest over €300,000 in Hungarian bonds acquire residency. The programme dates to 2012, but it has attracted attention recently, after reports that Hungarian bonds could be bought in places like Erbil in Iraq. Critics say the residency programme might open the door to corruption.
The failure to pass the five amendments, one of which said “foreign population cannot be settled into Hungary”, was another setback for Orban. A recent referendum, in which more than 98 per cent of voters backed his anti-migrant position, was declared invalid because of insufficient turnout. Foreign minister Peter Sziijarto said the EU mandatory quota scheme to resettle migrants, which has yet to be approved, was “a bad answer to the migrant crisis and will practically lead to Europe’s ruin”.
Under that programme, Hungary, which has a population of 10 million, would have to accept 1,294 of a total of about 160,000 migrants.
“Today it became clear that in terms of protecting the country, the Hungarian people can only count on the government,” Szijjarto said. “Defending the country’s security and lowering the risk of terrorism are national issues, but we can’t count on the opposition parties.”
Political analyst Zoltan Cegledi said the failure of the amendments was a “defeat of power politics”, in which Orban was emphasising his ability to get things done. “The defeat puts Orban in a very difficult communications position in which he has to explain why he isn’t capable of achieving anything,” Cegledi said. Orban’s “zero migrants” policies led Hungary in 2015 to build fences on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia. Rights groups say Orban’s rules have practically destroyed Hungary’s asylum system.