Today the people of Hungary are going to the polls, not to elect a new leader but to vote on a referendum regarding the immigration and refugee crisis. It’s a subject near and dear to the heart of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and it will set the tone for country’s relationship with the European Union in the coming months and years. Simply put, the question at hand is whether the people of Hungary want the EU to be able to force them to accept Syrian refugees for resettlement or if that’s a question best left up to the citizens of the country. (Deutsche Welle)

“Do you want the European Union to impose a mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament?”

That is the convoluted and at the same time rhetorical question that the Hungarian government is putting to the roughly 8 million eligible voters this Sunday. And signs calling for a “no” have been hung up all over the country – just to be sure that everyone understands.

The government also wants to win over people who normally do not vote for Fidesz, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party. His close associate and historian Laszlo Tokeczki recently told a public broadcaster: “You have to make it clear to feminists, homosexuals, Jews and atheists that it’s over for them if Islam wins.” And it has also been suggested that less social assistance will be offered to the otherwise unpopular Roma minority if more refugees lived in the country.

Unless local observers are very far off the mark, there shouldn’t be much of a mystery as to how the vote will go barring a possible technicality. (More on that in a moment.) Orban was one of the earliest and most vocal opponents of Angela Merkel’s open door policies and of the EU embracing such plans for all of the Union. He’s made no secret of his lack of interest in taking in large numbers of Muslim settlers and his popularity at home is listed in the neighborhood of 80%. (After the reported New Years Eve sexual assaults on women in Cologne he was quoted as saying, “I have four daughters and I do not want my children to grow up in a world where things like Cologne happen.”) He seems to have the country on his side on this one.

The technical question comes in terms of how big the turnout for this referendum vote is. In order to be valid they need to have “at least every second eligible voter” take part. In other words, they need a 50% turnout. If that’s not achieved then the vote is apparently not considered “official” but that probably won’t matter anyway. It’s more of a signal of public consent and if Orban then moves on to enact policies which prohibit forced resettlement there will really be nobody to question him.

The one amusing sidebar to the story is the fact that Hungary has thus far been largely successful in keeping out the refugees. In fact, one group has been handing out fliers saying that a Hungarian has more chance of seeing a UFO in his lifetime than a migrant. Deutsche Welle helpfully provides the following statistic.

The Hungarian UFO research association receives about 12 reports of UFO sightings a year.

So Hungary does have an illegal alien problem, albeit a small one. But they’re apparently actual aliens.

viktororban