It was no surprise to see the Hungarian referendum return 98% “NO” on EU imposed immigration quotas.While accepting c.1,300 asylum seekers on a pure economic cost basis is unlikely to move the needle, one might question asylum seekers willingness to move there in any case.
The above picture shows members of the Hungarian nationalist “Jobbik Party” who look awfully like Ernst Roehm’s SA storm-troopers in 1920s and 1930s Germany. Jobbik garnered over 20% of total votes at the 2014 parliamentary elections, making them the third largest party in the National Assembly. This is up from 2% in 2006.
While the turnout of only 43% did not legally qualify it (requires 50%) as a valid referendum it still showed clearly that Hungarians do not want immigrants decided by the EU. So Hungarian PM Viktor Orban says he will change the constitution to make the decision binding.
This referendum was a double edged sword for Jobbik. On the one hand they want to keep true to their credo, “movement for a better Hungary” but at the same time want to take over from Orban’s Fidesz Party, something they felt more attainable after its first by-election victory in April 2015.
Jobbik has had a pretty fearsome reputation inside Hungary for its tough treatment of Gypsy and Roma minorities because the party claims they rarely contribute to society, sponge off welfare and disproportionately feature in crime statistics. The Jobbik Party’s anti-Roma and anti-Jewish rhetoric and actions have become increasingly virulent in recent years in Hungary, bolstered by organized paramilitary groups, extremist organizations, and private individuals. Several instances of racially motivated crimes and violence by both extremists groups and civilians have been recorded by civil society organizations and the media, including the killing or injuring of Roma victims, the use of firearms, firebombs, grenades, and Molotov cocktails against Roma, and the humiliation of Romani children and adults.
In no way do I suggest Hungarians all share such beliefs but parties like Jobbik have been growing in popularity only highlight the surge in nationalist sentiment.
With that in mind, I very much doubt that legitimate asylum seekers would really wish to be sent to Hungary for resettlement. From being uprooted from their war-torn homeland to potential victimisation in their new home does not exactly sound promising. I haven’t forgotten the pictures of journalists tripping asylum seekers up or ferrying them as fast as possible toward Germany. Then again, if the asylum seekers were asked where they would like to be settled, the EU’s quota allocation sums would be well out of whack. Therein lies the problem. Enforcing other’s humanitarian beliefs on those that have little or no intention of respecting those aims is hardly a recipe for mutual cooperation.