The latest referendum to roil the EU will be held this weekend in Hungary. The AFP reports:
Hungarians are poised to reject the EU’s troubled refugee quota plan in a referendum on Sunday, potentially further boosting the European clout of fiercely anti-migrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Latest polls indicate the “no” camp will comfortably win, although if the turnout fails to reach 50 percent, the vote will be deemed invalid.
Orban’s right-wing government has led a huge media offensive urging the eight-million-strong electorate to reject the EU proposal, which seeks to share migrants around the 28-member bloc via mandatory quotas.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said Wednesday the outcome would not affect the quota plan or other EU treaties, despite Orban’s insistence that the rejection of the deal would have legal repercussions for the bloc.[..]
Hungarian opposition parties have called for a boycott of the October 2 ballot, which will ask voters: “Do you want the EU to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?”
Few doubt that most Hungarians disagree with the EU resettlement policies; the main issue will be turnout. But even if over 50% of voters do turn out, the referendum will be non-binding: its results will create no legal compulsion upon the EU. On the other hand, the EU’s vote for migrant quotas does create a legal obligation on Hungary.
But the EU doesn’t have many enforcement mechanisms—its decrees have generally relied on member nations’ sense of the importance of obeying for the sake of the project as a whole. Now, Orban has drawn a line in the sand, and could get a majority of voters to back him up with a symbolic vote. And if that happens, the EU will be faced with yet another very serious challenge in a year that has been full of them.