Low voter turnout invalidated Hungary’s referendum on European Union refugee quotas, even though citizens voted overwhelmingly in support of the government’s opposition to any future, mandatory EU plans to relocate asylum-seekers. The government claimed a “sweeping victory,” but analysts said that the result was an “embarrassing but not totally catastrophic defeat” for Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “We can be proud that we are the first and so far only member state of the European Union” to hold such a referendum, Orban told supporters after the results were known. “Hungarians were able to give their direct opinions on the issue of immigration.”
Orban, who did not mention at all that the referendum was officially invalid, said he would present a proposal to amend the Constitution reflecting people’s intentions. Orban, a right-wing populist, has challenged the EU’s refugee policy, arguing that allowing the influx of larger numbers of Muslim migrants into Europe threatens Hungary and Europe’s Christian identity and culture.
… With 99.98 percent of the votes counted, more than 3.25 million voters — or 98.3 of those who cast valid ballots — backed the government. But turnout stood at 43.9 percent, the National Election Office said. At least 50 percent plus one of Hungary’s 8.27 million voters needed to cast valid ballots for the referendum to be valid.