Both Brussels and Budapest are claiming victory over the migrant quotas referendum – the former the low turnout, the latter that a majority voted against the EU, leaving both sides at odds.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz had previously called the referendum plan ‘absurd’. Speaking after the vote to our reporter he said:
“We should in my eyes take this very seriously. But I think the government in Budapest should take it also seriously that it was not a majority and we have therefore a good chance for dialogue with – that was my proposal already before the referendum.”
For many at the European parliament’s session in Strasbourg, the low turnout was the message to retain, that many Hungarians do not agree with Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Still, he (Orban) did not managed to get result he wanted. So that’s to me a sign that we should never paint, or see people through the lens of their leaders. Hungarians are worth more, or better than the image of Viktor Orban is giving of the country,” said Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian MEP from the Green party.
Other voices in the house such as pro-Brexit MEP Nigel Farage felt that Britain’s vote to leave the EU might have played a role in the Hungarian vote.
“This the most extraordinary result. 98 percent. Yeah, the turnout was not very high, but in Hungary turnouts of referendums are not very high. More people yesterday voted against migrants quotas than voted originally for Hungary to join the EU, and I’m beginning to think that that perhaps the Brexit vote is having a big knock on effect across the rest of the Europe. “
It marks the third referendum by member countries on EU policies in two years, but as Euronews correspondent Sandor Zsiros,notes MEPS did not want to discuss the latest results, voting down a proposal to put it on this week’s parliamentary agenda.