Hungary’s Viktor Orban got his vote on migrants, and it went overwhelmingly his way: 98 percent voted against the EU forcing Hungary accepting migrants without the Hungarian parliament’s approval. Politico:
“In this era of referendums, he wants to show he can use referendums for his own purpose; he is not afraid to consult the voters,” said Milan Nič, head of the Europe program at GLOBSEC Policy Institute, a think tank in Bratislava focused on foreign policy and security issues.
“If we have the politics of anger and identity politics as the new wild horse in European politics, he is showing he can jump on the wild horse and ride it,” Nič said. “Yes, there is a populist backlash and look, I not only survived it, I’m riding it.”
Of course, it was a non-binding referendum; voter turnout was at 43.35 percent, short of the 50 percent threshold for making the vote valid; and Brussels has already started to ease its insistence on the deeply unpopular resettlement provision. Nevertheless, as Politico goes on to note, “Hungary’s referendum to join the EU in 2003 generated 45.6 percent turnout and even then only 83.8 percent voted in favor.”
From an immediate policy standpoint, this vote won’t make a difference. But symbolically, this weekend was an important one for Orban. European leaders had best not make too many delusional excuses for themselves. A new era is dawning in Europe, and the blinkered Wilsonian utopianism that has captivated modern EU bureaucrats’ imagination since the end of the Cold War will no longer suffice to keep the project on track.