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Behind the Numbers: Orbán's refugee referendum

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PoliticsBehind the Numbers

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is looking for a way to ignore the refugee crisis. That’s why, encouraged by his wariness of Brussels, he's called his own referendum on the 2nd of October. On this date, Hungarians will have their say on whether or not they want to host refugees within their borders.

Hungary is once again causing controversy. The government has already built a barbed wire fence along its Serbian and Croatian borders, to prevent refugees from entering the country. Now, they have called an anti-immigration referendum next October. "Do you want the EU to enforce compulsory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in the country without the consent of Parliament?" is the question that conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is addressing to his citizens.

The point of contention? The quotas being imposed by the European Commission calling for each member state to play its part in hosting 160,000 refugees currently stuck in Greece and Italy, as well as the suggestion that the EU fine those states refusing to adhere to the arrangement. Orbán, who supported Brexit and whose Euroscepticism seems to grow day by day, has firmly pinned his contempt for the European directives to the mast, hoping that his country achieves "independence" from Brussels.

It comes at a moment of great uncertainty for the EU thanks to the upcoming departure of the United Kingdom, and at a time when the far-right political party "Movement for a better Hungary" (better known as Jobbik) is seeing growing support. The results of the referendum, even if it remains consultative, could start a chain reaction. Might Brexit be followed by an eventual "Huxit" Let’s hope not, eh?


This article is part of our Behind the Numbers series, illustrating newsworthy stats with artistic design and a brief analysis.

Story by

Ana Valiente

Spanish freelance journalist based in Madrid. Currently exploring the boundless world of documentary filmmaking.

Translated from Orbán y los refugiados