Exit polls show that an overwhelming majority — as high as 98 percent — voted against accepting the European Union’s migrant quotas, but Sunday’s referendum will likely be ruled invalid as voter turnout is projected to be below 50 percent.
The referendum was tailored by President Viktor Orban’s government in protest of EU plans to relocate 160,000 migrants across 28 countries. If successful, the referendum would put pressure on the EU to scrap the migrant quotas altogether. (RELATED: Hungarian PM Wants To ‘Round Up’ Migrants And Put Them On An Island)
The referendum asked voters: “Do you want the European Union to be able to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?”
Despite an overwhelming majority voting “No,” a projected voter turnout of just 45 percent would make it invalid.
Hungary’s quota in the relocation scheme is less than 2,000 migrants, but the Orban administration firmly opposes taking any refugees. Plans for an “unbreakable” border fence and 3,000 “border hunters” were announced in August to curb the influx. (RELATED: Hungary Plans To Make Border Fence ‘Unbreakable’ For Refugees)
Orban has spent more than $60 million on a campaign centered around the idea that refugees make the country more vulnerable to terrorism.
Orban said the government will work to pass legislation for tighter immigration rules even if the referendum is ruled invalid.
“The most important issue next week is for me to go to Brussels, hold negotiations and try with the help of this result — if the result if appropriate — achieve for it not to be mandatory to take in the kind of people in Hungary we don’t want to,” Orban said after casting his ballot.
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