Hungary’s political opposition held a joint press conference yesterday morning announcing the delivery of 470,000 signatures from 235,000 people to the National Election Office, expressing confidence that the two-question referendum could be held together with the parliamentary elections on April 3.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony began the press conference denoting the end of the referendum’s signature drive by saying that the activists had done heroic work over the past few weeks through collecting signatures at the worst possible time. The mayor said that the boxes full of signatures behind him would now be taken to the election office so that politics could be given back to the people.
Politics has become more and more synonymous with corruption, pragmatism, and misleading people, while decisions are increasingly made for the sake of a narrow elite, but these [referenda] questions serve anew the purpose of making political decisions in the public interest.
-said the Mayor.
Gergely Karácsony closed by saying that the referendum would take them from the primary election to the parliamentary election, which again will be a referendum on ending the politics of recent years, “which has held the state hostage and represented private interests instead of the public interest.”
Momentum’s Anna Orosz spoke about committed supporters in the opposition who had tried to warn the six-party coalition not to start collecting signatures before the Christmas holiday period. The Deputy Mayor of Újbuda felt that there was no circumstance that could not be overcome in their effort to install a new government in Hungary.
Budapest Deputy Mayor Erzsébet Gy. Németh asked supporters to show the same level of dedication during the election campaign to help them replace the government. If they are capable of this, on April 3 they will be able to show that “a new world is coming.”
MSZP’s Imre Komjáthi claimed that people’s livelihoods were threatened in Hungary, and that millions of people nervously walk into stores because of runaway inflation. “Millions of people are now getting less on the table because the government isn’t acting,” he stated.
Tímea Szabó said that the government tried everything it could to block the opposition’s referendum initiative, but the flood of signatures showed that people had already said no to Fudan University and yes to the Student City project. The Co-Chair of Dialogue wore a T-shirt with the Chinese flag overlaid with the Fidesz logo, for which she had previously received a 10 million Ft. (US $31,600) fine while wearing in the National Assembly.
Tímea Szabó also stated that:
If János Áder does not call the referendum for April 3, it will go against the will of the people.
The two proposed questions for the referendum are:
- 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?
LMP Co-Chair Máté Kanász-Nagy believes that the government’s recent corruption cases have highlighted the importance of the referendum. As he put it, “the Fidesz privileged are stealing with abandon,” while on the other side people are missing out on their unemployment benefits.
Jobbik’s György Szilágyi said it was a touching and uplifting feeling to see that after the thrill of the primary election, masses of people again stood next to the opposition, showing the power to sweep away “Viktor Orbán and his gang.”
Press Chief Judit Péterfi read a message by the opposition’s nominee for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay, who could not be present at the event following a positive coronavirus test. Márki-Zay wrote that the opposition now has 235,000 brave men and woman who have given their names and details to their effort, but there are even more out there.
Péter Márki-Zay felt that they had made huge strides since the primary elections. He made a promise and they achieved it, and they now have a reason to celebrate. But he also looked ahead by saying:
The real referendum on April 3 will be about a single question: Fidesz or not Fidesz.
Forming a human chain, opposition supporters then passed the boxes containing the signature sheets to one another from Kossuth Square to the National Election Office.
[Index][Photos: Anna Orosz / Facebook]
Great to see, may finally be the beginning of the end!
It seems unlikely though that it will be held at the same time as the elections on Apr. 3 as there are so many ways for these government bodies to draw out the process administratively with such long deadlines for everything. But maybe doing that could spark ire and cause people to come to the polls and vote the government out? In either case, this referendum has been motivating for them, no doubt.
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