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How Perceptions Influenced Hungary's Migrant Quota Referendum: Opinion
4 October, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅ Hungarians overwhelmingly rejected an EU migrant allocation plan during a nationwide referendum on October 2. However, the low turnout makes the result invalid;
✅ Leaders from Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have also criticized the EU's mandatory migrant quota plans; 
✅ Hungarian journalist: Government has used referendum to 'legitimize a lot of political measures that have taken place over the past years';
✅ The government's referendum campaign expenditure far exceed the cost, over five years, of accepting the 1,294 refugees Hungary would be forced to take: NGO.

The Hungarian government’s campaign against an EU migrant quota system strived to manipulate how the public views the role of asylum seekers in the country. That according to Marta Orosz, a journalist with investigative news outlet Correctiv

In the weeks leading up to the referendum, billboards across the country renewed fears of violence and an uncertain future. One such poster read; 'Since the immigration crisis in Europe, more than 300 people have died in terror attacks'. It's messages like these that, Ms. Orosz says, aims to cast a dark shadow over the tens of thousands of new arrivals which have reached Europe's shores over the recent months. 

"In Hungary, they don't appear in the role of people who flee from war and need help and support in this very difficult situation, they are more like people who come to Hungary or a specific country  and to somehow, take advantage of this situation, who will try to come to society and cause major changes the society doesn't want" 

Although the referendum spearheaded by Prime Minister Viktor Orban was eventually declared invalid, he has spared no time in promoting the result as a victory. With such a resounding rejection, the national parliament could still decide to vote on EU quotas, despite not being obliged to under current legislation. 

"The Hungarian government got this unprecedented opportunity of this so-called refugee crisis to basically legitimize a lot of political measures which have taken place in the past years", Ms. Orosz told Hromadske TV.

Although such plebiscites are a superior tool for any democracy, Ms. Orosz says such initiatives should have their boundaries.

"It gets problematic when the society or public attitudes have been manipulated...and the (government) makes efforts to convince the society on a particular issue" 

Hromadske's Nataliya Gumenyuk spoke with Marta Orosz, a journalist from the investigative news outlet Correctiv.