The united opposition coalition has managed to get a total of 470,000 signatures in support of the two questions for its proposed referendum on Fudan University and extending unemployment benefits, Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition’s candidate for prime minister (pictured, left), announced in a joint Facebook video with Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony (pictured, right).
In other words, Hungary’s opposition parties succeeded in getting 235,000 signatures for each issue. While only 200,000 authentic signatures are needed to hold a national referendum on a given issue, the extra signatures add a bit of breathing room in case any person information provided to organizers turns out to be invalid, which past experience has shown to be the case about 10% of the time.
The sheets were expected to be handed over on Friday, but as Péter Márki-Zay is in quarantine following a positive Covid test, he will not be there. The opposition leader has asked Gergely Karácsony to deliver the referendum petitions, noting that the success of the initiative was due in large part to the Budapest mayor.
Karácsony originally submitted five questions for a national referendum, although in the end only two of these were approved:
Do you agree that the maximum period for the payment of unemployment benefits should be 270 days?
Do you agree that the National Assembly should repeal Act LXXXI of 2021 on the Fudan Hungary University Foundation regarding the transfer of assets to the Fudan Hungary University Foundation?
Activists from the six united opposition parties, namely DK, Jobbik, MSZP, Dialogue, Momentum, and LMP, as well as the Márki-Zay’s Everyone Hungary Movement and the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party, also took part in the signature drive.
The united opposition announced its plans for a referendum at the same time as the government’s referendum on so-called “child protection” issues, but the latter did not require signatures. In the end, four of the government’s questions were approved, and Parliament agreed to hold this referendum at the same time as parliamentary elections on April 3.
But it was decided that the referendum proposed by Gergely Karácsony would require collecting a certain number of signatures, which began in mid-December. The opposition coalition hoped that the two-question referendum campaign would reignite voter enthusiasm that had waned following the excitement of the primary elections in the fall.
Their goal was to hold the referendum on April 3, at the same time as the parliamentary election and the government’s own referendum. This is still possible in principle, depending on how much time it takes to verify signatures on the two petitions and address any legal appeals against them.
But as previously reported, authorities can also draw out the time by issuing rulings only at the end of a given deadline, making it less likely that the opposition’s referendum can be held on election day this year.
[Népszava][Photo: Péter Márki-Zay / Facebook]