Hungary: Second opposition party launches EU referendum

Far-right Jobbik wants to prevent the Hungarian parliament from deciding on Hungary’s EU membership

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Magyar Nemzet
Márton Gyöngyösi, leader of Hungary's opposition Jobbik party. (Magyar Nemzet/Miklós Teknös)

After a similar move by the opposition Socialist party, Hungary’s far-right Jobbik also wants to launch a referendum concerning the country’s EU membership, the party’s president, Márton Gyöngyösi, announced on Monday.

Gyöngyösi said he wants to ensure that the parliament cannot make a decision that could lead to Hungary’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

At the press conference held before submitting the initiative, the Jobbik leader said that the country’s constitution forbids holding a referendum on an issue involving obligations arising from international treaties, while the government can take the country out of the EU at any time with a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

“In an issue of such importance, the will of the people cannot be avoided, which can only be expressed through a referendum,” he said, indicating that his initiative would seek the opinion of the citizens on whether they agree that “the parliament should not support a proposal or motion that could see Hungary withdrawing from the Union.”

The politician explained he had submitted the initiative as a private individual for technical reasons because he has not yet registered his election as party leader in the court; however, the Jobbik presidency supports the move.

In a similar move, István Ujhelyi, an MEP of the opposition Socialist party (MSZP) previously announced on his Facebook page that he will initiate a referendum to reinforce the country’s EU membership.

“I will officially submit to the competent election commission the question discussed with the lawyers, namely, ‘Do you agree with the parliament creating a law on Hungary’s commitment to European Union membership?'”

The Socialists’ referendum plan was rejected by the opposition camp. According to the president of Momentum, Ferenc Gelencsér, and the party’s European Parliament representative, Katalin Cseh, “it is completely unnecessary to initiate a referendum on Hungary’s EU membership.”

Gelencsér affirmed that “Hungary is a full member of the EU. Throwing the question of this membership relationship into the center of the agenda of the political arena and making it the subject of a real, high-stakes debate is more than a crime, it is a huge mistake.”

Katalin Cseh added on her social media page: “We are members and we want to remain so – even the majority of Fidesz voters.”

Hungary held a referendum on its EU membership in April 2013, at which time 83.76 percent were in favor of joining the group. Hungary joined the EU on May 1, 2004, alongside nine other candidates, including Czechia, Slovakia, and Poland.

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