Parliament rejects Hungarian leader’s anti-migrant plans

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Hungary’s prime minister has failed in his attempt to push through constitutional amendments opposing any future plan by the European Union to resettle asylum-seekers.

Politicians voted 131-3 in favour of prime minister Viktor Orban’s proposal, but the governing Fidesz party failed to secure any opposition support and fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority of all 199 deputies necessary.

All opposition politicians either voted against the proposal or abstained.

The failure to pass the five amendments, including one stating that a “foreign population cannot be settled into Hungary”, was Mr Orban’s second major setback.

A recent referendum - in which more than 98 per cent of voters supported the government’s anti-migrant position - was declared invalid because of low voter turnout.

Foreign minister Peter Sziijarto said the EU mandatory quota scheme to resettle asylum-seekers, which has yet to be approved, was “a bad answer to the migrant crisis - and will practically lead to Europe’s ruin”.

“Today it became clear that in terms of protecting the country, the Hungarian people can only count on the government,” Mr Szijjarto said.

“Defending the country’s security and lowering the risk of terrorism are national issues, but we can’t count on the opposition parties.”

Political analyst Zoltan Cegledi said the rejection of the amendments was a “defeat of power politics”, in which Orban and Fidesz were emphasising their ability to get things done no matter what.

“The defeat puts Orban in a very difficult communications position in which he has to explain why he isn’t capable of achieving anything,” Mr Cegledi said.

Orban’s “zero migrants” policies led Hungary to build fences last year on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia to stop the migrant flow.

They also resulted in draconian rules which, according to human rights groups, have practically destroyed Hungary’s asylum system.

Last year, before the fences were fully in place by mid-October, nearly 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary on their way to Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe. Orban presented the amendments as necessary to keep out large numbers of mostly Muslim asylum seekers. He said the changes were aimed at protecting Hungarian independence, identity and culture.