Hungarian government used the migrant vote for political gain – Financial Times Journalist
3 October, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅ Hungarians overwhelmingly voted “no” in referendum on EU’s migrant quota plan; 
✅ Result declared invalid as turnout was only 44%, below the 50% threshold;
✅ Hungarian PM Victor Orban said that 1294 refugees that Hungary would have to accept “the thin end of the wedge”, according to FT correspondent Andrew Byrne; 
✅ “The government is declaring this a huge endorsement of their migration policies”, says Andrew Byrne; 
✅ Referendum result does not demand action from the government, except to oppose EU migrant policies.   

The central point of the story remains that Hungary’s autocratic Prime Minister Victor Orban has used the issue of migration and fears of refugees to bolster his political dominance at home and abroad. That is according to Andrew Byrne, the Financial Times correspondent stationed in Budapest. He believes that the cornerstone of Orban’s anti-migrant policy has been to show that “only Hungarians should be able to decide who can enter their country”. 

Orban is aided, in part, by the lack of unity among the opposition. “They have a very fragmented and splintered opposition, which seems incapable of offering a unified political platform,” Andrew Byrne told us before the result was made public late Sunday evening.

The turnout of the anti-migrant referendum was close to 44%. It’s been declared invalid since at least 50% of Hungary’s 8 million population was required to vote. Orban’s anti-migrant campaign cost the government around USD 36 million. The Hungarian prime minister’s next steps is anyone’s guess, since the outcome of the referendum does not include action from the government.   

Hromadske spoke to Financial Times journalist Andrew Byrne on 2nd of October via Skype.