Hungary opens referendum to defy EU refugee quota plan

Published October 3rd, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Viktor Orban and wife Aniko Levai at a polling station in Budapest on October 2, 2016. (AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)
Viktor Orban and wife Aniko Levai at a polling station in Budapest on October 2, 2016. (AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)

Hungarians were Sunday voting in a referendum on the European Union's plan to settle quotas of migrants and refugees around the bloc's member countries, with a firm rejection of the policy expected.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, fiercely anti-immigrant, has been vocal in his opposition to the plan and even suggested recently that the more than 1 million people who arrived in the EU during the 2015-16 migration crisis should be expelled to "a large island."

The "Yes" or "No" question voters are being asked is, "Do you want the European Union to be able, without consulting the [Hungarian] parliament, to decree the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary?"

More than 8 million Hungarians are registered to vote and over half of them need to cast a ballot in order to make the referendum valid.

However it is unclear what the legal repercussions of a "No" vote would be, with EU officials insisting that Budapest cannot reverse the decision on migrant quotas.

Polls close at 7pm and results are expected late Sunday.

Last year Hungary was the first country to build a border barricade and ban migrants, including refugees, from entering its territory, with several other countries later following its example.

In December it also filed a legal challenge to the EU quota plan.


© 2019 dpa GmbH

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