Menu Close

Tag: Fudan referendum

Constitutional Court Blocks Referendum on Fudan, But Opposition Has Plan B

The Constitutional Court has blocked holding the national referendum on the Fudan University project and extending unemployment benefits. The two questions, which were submitted by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony as a private individual and promoted by Hungary’s political opposition, had already been approved by the National Election Commission, but a date had not been set to hold the referendum.

The questions submitted by the Mayor are the following:

  • 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?
  • Do you agree that the maximum period for the payment of unemployment benefits should be 270 days?

Reacting to the decision in a press conference, Gergely Karácsony charged the court with applying “double standards,” due to the fact that the government’s referendum initiative, the so-called “child protection” referendum promoted by Fidesz and the government, did not have to face such obstacles. The “child protection” referendum was held on April 3, at the same time as Hungary’s parliamentary elections, but was deemed invalid due to insufficient turnout.

In a press conference held on another topic in connection with the affair, the Mayor claimed that the Consititutional Court had “crossed a line,” and that it was “nonsense that the court had issued a ruling because of a complaint by a single person, ignoring the will of more than 200,000 citizens that gave their signature to each question.”

Ferencváros Mayor Krisztina Baranyi also reacted to the news by telling HVG.hu that a possible “Plan B” would be to hold a local referendum on the Fudan issue for Ferencváros residents.

Responding to Baranyi’s idea, Karácsony said that as mayor of Budapest, he had room to manuever on the Fudan project even without the need to hold a local referendum on the topic, although he did not provide any details about what he had in mind. [HVG]

Dialogue Wants Gov’t to Make Fudan Referendum Unnecessary

The opposition’s planned referendum on Fudan University and unemployment benefits is expected to be held in October or November, but Dialogue is also attempting to resolve the issues on the referendum through legal amendments.

Politicians Bence Tordai and András Jámbor told Magyar Hang that they would be completely satisfied if Fidesz made the referendum unnecessary by resolving the relevant issues to their satisfaction, similar to what previously occurred with the proposed “Nolimpia” referendum.

Dialogue’s Tordai said that they were now hoping that “Fidesz will sober up” and save the cost of having to hold a national referendum on the opposition’s two issues. After all, he said, the referendum itself is not the point, as their goal is to solve the problems it represents.

The government has submitted documents to the parliamentary Justice Committee estimating that holding the referendum would cost 13.59 billion Ft. (US $37.6 million). [Magyar Hang]

Opposition gets green light for Fudan referendum

picture of Gergely Karácsony

At least two hundred thousand valid signatures were collected for the two-question referendum on the Fudan University/Student City plans and expanding the period for unemployment benefits, the National Election Commission (NVB) said on Wednesday.

The initiative for a referendum was submitted by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony as a private person. The two questions were worded as follows:

  • 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?

The Dialogue politician handed over the signature sheets on January 21, and the National Election Office (NVI), granted a 60-day deadline, began checking the names that day.

Separate signature sheets were required for each referendum question. The committee determined that at least 200,526 signatures for the Fudan referendum were valid, and at least 200,555 for the unemployment benefits-related question.

The NVI did not have to verify all the signatures that were submitted, just until it became clear that the number of valid signatures had reached the minimum of two hundred thousand.

Hungary’s Fundamental Law states that if at least 200,000 voters give their assent to an issue, it is binding upon the National Assembly to set up a national referendum on it.

The National Electoral Office has officially counted the 470,000 signatures we submitted earlier this year on Student City and extending unemployment benefits. It took them longer to count the signatures than it took us to collect them. Although they were within the legally-allowed deadline, it is difficult not to see this as a deliberate delay. They tried to make the will of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians impossible, those who supported our common efforts with their signature. But the will of the people is making its way through. There will be a real referendum on April 3, where we will decide on Student City and also decide on helping our fellow human beings in trouble.

-wrote Gergely Karácsony on social media about the issue.

As previously reported, the opposition referendum would take place in the second week of October if all deadlines reach their legally-allowed limit. In the best case scenario, this would be in August, but much still depends on the results of the election.

The newly-formed Parliament will presumably be the one to set up the referendum. As it is expected to convene only in May, the October date for the referendum appears the most likely one.

[Telex][Photo: Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony delivers referendum signatures to the National Election Office, Jan. 21, 2022 – Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Political Capital: zero chance that opposition referendum will be held on election day

picture of woman carrying box

A leading political research institute says it is “100%” certain that the opposition’s proposed referendum will not be held together with parliamentary elections on April 3.

On Friday, the six-party opposition coalition submitted the signatures it had spent weeks gathering for a national referendum on the two issues of China’s Fudan University campus in Budapest and extending unemployment benefits from 30 to 90 days.

While the united opposition is understandably communicating that its referendum can still appear on the election day ballot, Political Capital believes there is no chance of this actually happening due to the way the referendum law is structured and the slow pace of the government agencies involved.

As the research institute wrote on social media:

What’s stranger is that the interpretation going through the Hungarian media is that ever since the referendum questions were originally submitted in July last year, it was known with 99% certainty that the entire process could not be completed by April of this year.

Today, the only difference is that this has grown from 99% to 100%.

To underline their point, Political Capital lists the steps that still need to be taken before Hungarian voters actually get to have their say:

  • Verifying signatures (up to 60 days)
  • Deadline for legal redress (5 days)
  • Ruling on the appeal – Curia High Court (up to 5 days)
  • Informing the Speaker of the National Assembly (up to 8 days)
  • Speaker of the National Assembly announces the initiative at an official sitting of the National Assembly (next day Parliament meets)
  • National Assembly approves the referendum (up to 30 days)
  • Publication of the National Assembly’s resolution in the Official Gazette (up to 8 days)
  • Deadline for legal redress (15 days)
  • Ruling on the appeal – Constitutional Court (up to 30 days)
  • Setting a date for the referendum – President of the Republic (up to 15 days)
  • Referendum day (min. 70-90 days after the date is set, or min. 50 in certain cases)

Even if each of the following steps only took one day each, although the deadlines for the two appeal processes have to be waited out, it would still not be possible to hold the referendum on April 3, claims Political Capital. And if every decision in the process is made at the very end of its deadline, the entire process could drag out until October, the think tank stated.

Despite all this, Budapest Deputy Mayor Erzsébet Gy. Németh believes it is still legally possible to schedule the referendum at the same time as the general elections on April 3.

Németh told news program ATV Start that there were definitely 200,000 valid signatures, and from this point on it will be up to the National Election Office and Parliament to determine whether Hungarians will be able to cast a vote on the opposition’s proposed questions on election day.

[Népszava][Photo: activist delivers signatures to the National Election Office – Anna Orosz / Facebook page]

National Election Office warns that counting opposition’s referendum signatures could take several weeks

picture of Gergely Karácsony

The National Election Office (NVI) will begin counting the signatures collected for the opposition’s proposed referendum after boxes of signature sheets were handed over to them by opposition leaders and activists on Friday, NVI said in a statement.

The two-question referendum on a branch campus of China’s Fudan University and extending unemployment benefits was initiated by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony (pictured). After the NVI provided signature sheets in mid-December, opposition politicians and activists spent weeks collecting the necessary number of signatures.

NVI now writes that they have sixty days to count the 235,000 signatures provided to them, of which 200,000 must be valid, and promise to do so “within the deadline set by the referendum law.” They will need to increase staffing to do this, because they have to arrange the sheets into hundreds of batches, then scan them in and count the signatures one by one.

The agency also noted that in addition to having to verify the signatures for the two referendum questions, they are in the final stages of preparing for parliamentary elections on April 3, as well as the government’s own four-question referendum on the same day. But they added that previous referenda have shown that the counting effort will take weeks.

At the opposition’s press conference held in Kossuth Square yesterday, Dialogue MP Tímea Szabó said that the National Election Office would be able to count the signatures in a single night if it wanted to, even though it has up to 60 days under the law.

As Gergely Karácsony said:

There is certainly no legal obstacle to holding a referendum on these issues on April 3rd. If Fidesz prevents this through administrative means, it will be another very strong message to the Hungarian people.

The idea for the referendum was part of Gergely Karácsony’s campaign when he was running to be the opposition’s candidate for prime minister. Péter Márki-Zay, the eventual winner of the primary election, took up the cause, after two of the mayor’s original five questions had been approved by the National Election Commission:

  • 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?

Collecting signatures for the initiative began in mid-December, with the intent of holding a referendum on April 3, the day of the parliamentary election. The opposition finally collected the required number of signatures, but due to possible appeals and other conceivable administrative obstacles, the legal process is expected to drag on for so long that getting the referendum on the ballot for April 3 may not be possible.

On this day, the government will hold its own referendum on “child protection” issues at the same time as parliamentary elections are held. Under current law, however, the government did not have to collect signatures as the opposition did for its initiative.

[Telex][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Karácsony and supporters deliver referendum signatures to National Election Office

picture of people with boxes

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.”

Opposition activists deliver signature sheets to National Election Office, January 21, 2022 [Anna Orosz / Facebook]

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]

United opposition gets 470,000 signatures for Fudan referendum, ends petition drive

picture of Péter Márki-Zay and Gergely Karácsony

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]

Tight deadlines may torpedo the opposition’s plans for a referendum on Apr. 3

February 12 is the last day that President János Áder can declare the referendum proposed by the political opposition to be held on the same day as parliamentary elections on April 3 this year. But time is not on the side of those supporting the initiative, and it may run out before all the pieces come together.

A minimum of 200,000 valid signatures are required for a referendum to be held on the twin issues of Fudan University in Budapest and an extended period for receiving unemployment benefits. However, the February 12 date also means that in theory all signatures on the petitions will have been checked by the National Electoral Office (NVI), the results certified by the National Electoral Commission (NVB), then forwarded by the NVB President to László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly.

Following this, Parliament must pass a decree for a referendum, against which an appeal may be lodged with the Constitutional Court within five working days. If a constitutional complaint is also made, then the Constitutional Court likewise has five working days to decide the case.

According to András Litresits, a former MSZP delegate to the National Electoral Commission, under these conditions it is doubtful whether the referendum on Fudan and unemployment benefits will be able to be held on election day, even if the opposition parties are able to deliver the required number of signatures within the next few days.

One of the biggest problems with the deadlines, said the lawyer, is that those in charge usually take advantage of the time they have available and only issue a ruling towards the end of the deadline. In this case, the Curia High Court had 90 days last year to simply rule on whether to permit the referendum proposal to go forward.

So the body, led by András Zs. Varga, was able to sit on the case from September to the beginning of December, and finally give a ruling in non-public circumstances (not litigation). And with regards to initiatives coming from the opposition, the Curia generally leans towards deciding at the end of the legal deadline.

-explained the lawyer.

Indeed, the Curia approved the two referendum questions on December 8, only eight days before the 90-day deadline, said Litresits. If the court had instead issued a ruling in September or October, the lawyer believes that there would have been a good chance for the opposition parties to gather the requisite 200,000 signatures before Christmas. In this case, the deadlines would not have been so tight, and Litresits believes that the referendum almost certainly would have been held on April 3.

The United for Hungary opposition announced in a joint press conference on the morning of January 14 that they were already at 170,000 signatures, so even with such tight deadlines, it may still be possible to have a referendum on Fudan and a longer period for unemployment benefits on the same day as parliamentary elections and the government’s referendum on child protection issues.

[Azonnali][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

United for Hungary coalition has 150,000 signatures for its referendum petition

picture of people signing petition

While the government has set April 3 as the date for both parliamentary elections and its four-question “child protection” referendum, the united opposition is also trying to get its own referendum on the ballot that day.

András Simon, communications director for the United for Hungary coalition, said that the opposition was making good progress on collecting signatures for its referendum, and that at least 150,000 people had already signed the two petitions on the issues of a Budapest campus of Fudan University and extending the period of unemployment benefits.

United for Hungary expects to have the necessary 200,000 signatures by the time the official campaign period begins on February 12, and is hoping for 230,000-240,000 to be on the safe side. However, the opposition’s party list of candidates is not expected to be ready before the end of January, nor will the complete text of its policy platform be released either, although new details in certain areas are still being rolled out.

Momentum President Anna Donáth grumbled about the opposition’s slow decision-making process in a recent interview, especially criticizing the attitude of the Democratic Coalition (DK). In response, DK’s Gergely Arató only stated that, to his knowledge, his party had collected the most signatures for the opposition’s referendum.

[Népszava][Photo: Péter Márki-Zay / Facebook]

Opposition has 100,000 signatures for its Fudan referendum initiative

United for Hungary press conference

Péter Márki-Zay, the united opposition coalition’s candidate for prime minister, and other party leaders held a joint press conference at Nyugati Square in Budapest on January 5. The leaders spoke about their efforts to collect signatures for a two-part referendum on the future of Fudan University in Budapest and extending unemployment benefits.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, who submitted the two questions to the National Election Committee back in the summer, said in the joint briefing that the opposition has now collected 100,000 signatures for the effort, or half the 200,000 needed to hold the referendum.

MEP Klára Dobrev from the Democratic Coalition spoke about how the referendum campaign will bring opposition parties closer together for the upcoming election campaign.

Anna Donáth, another MEP who recently took over as party chair for Momentum, called attention to the housing crisis in the capital, to which the Student City investment project could help solve if the government gives up its plans for a branch campus of China’s Fudan University.

Ágnes Kunhalmi, co-chair of the MSZP, recalled the series of demonstrations that took place three years ago after an amendment to the Labor Law was passed that became commonly known as the “Slave Act.”

Máté Kanász-Nagy, co-chair of green party LMP, who has recently been tasked with the responsibility for communicating social affairs in the opposition, said, “We should not spend it on an elite university in China, but on Student City, which will provide housing for students.”

Jobbik was represented by one of their vice-presidents, Dániel Z. Kárpát, as party President Péter Jakab was not present at the event. Kárpát stressed that Hungary’s national interest should take priority over China’s, and that axing the Student City project does not serve the former.

Péter Márki-Zay spoke last to loud chants of “MZP!” as he began speaking. The prime minister-designate repeated some of his standard campaign talking points, such as his belief that the current government is the “most corrupt in the 1,000-year-old Hungary,” and referred to his campaign slogan several times by saying that “we must keep going up.”

If we don’t break the unity of these six parties and civic associations, we can overthrow the most corrupt government in the last thousand years.

-stated Márki-Zay, who also urged everyone around the country to sign the signature sheets for the referendum if they have not already done so.

Since the primary elections in the fall, the parties in the united coalition and their chosen candidate for prime minister have not made many joint appearances in public. Since the October 23 holiday, they have only appeared together once in Kossuth Square, in mid-December, to present their nominees, where they also launched the referendum effort.

Since then, there have been many reports about internal tensions within the coalition, such as recent negative comments made by Jobbik President Péter Jakab about the coalition’s prime minister-delegate.

[444]

Opposition has 50,000 signatures for Fudan referendum, needs 150,000 more by mid-Jan

picture of people signing petition

The opposition continues to collect signatures at a brisk pace on petitions for a national referendum to be held during Parliamentary elections in April, although it does not seem likely that it will get the necessary amount by the end of the year. The questions proposed by the opposition concern Fudan University and extending the unemployment benefit period.

Ágnes Kunhalmi, co-chair of opposition party MSZP, stated on ATV’s “Voks 2022” program that 50,000-55,000 signatures had already been collected by Tuesday evening. Representatives for the initiative claimed that they had 25,000 signatures by December 21.

The two questions were submitted by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, and the entire opposition is now pitching in to gather the necessary signatures, including the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party, despite not being part of the six-party united coalition.

On December 8, Karácsony wrote on Facebook that “we will receive the signature sheets within a day or two and manage to get 200,000 signatures this year so that we can have a say in our future.” However, the National Election Office only handed over the signature sheets to the Mayor of Budapest on December 15.

The two questions approved by the National Election Office, which each require 200,000 valid signatures to appear on a national referendum, are the following:

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?

[Index][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Opposition on track to get half-million signatures for its two referendum questions

picture of petition signers

Representatives of Hungary’s political opposition say that by the beginning of January, or the first half of the month at the latest, it will have a total of about half a million signatures to hold a referendum on Fudan University and unemployment benefits, writes Népszava.

Before Christmas, 45,000 signatures were collected within a few days. Although the referendum requires 200,000 authentic signatures per question, they figure they will need roughly 250,000 signatures per question due to disqualifications from inaccurate information entered together with the signatures.

In principle, this could be enough to hold a referendum before or at the same time as the Parliamentary elections to decide on whether voters want a Chinese private university to be built in Budapest and want to increase the length of employment benefits to nine months from the current three months.

Magyar Hang writes that the Orbán government is giving signs that it is trying to make the opposition’s initiative impossible through administrative delays. If the opposition manages to collect half a million signatures in a few weeks, it will be up to the Fidesz-loyal authorities to allow the referendum to take place. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán may have already revealed his intentions when he recently said that “it is only legally possible to hold the Fudan referendum after the elections.”

The Orbán government will also be holding its own referendum on five “child protection” questions. Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony also submitted five questions to the National Election Commission (NVB) for approval this summer. But while the NVB took just a week to validate the government’s questions, it took a month and a half to consider Karácsony’s questions, and finally approved two out of the five.

The National Election Office has also tried to make it difficult to collect signatures, the news site claims. Although in some cases the office has been able to produce signature sheets in hours, it has dragged its feet in printing out and sending signature sheets on Fudan and unemployment benefits to the opposition.

[Magyar Hang][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Opposition has already collected 45,000 signatures for Fudan petition

picture of petition papers

Hungary’s opposition parties have already collected over 45,000 signatures as of Thursday evening for their petition in support of holding a referendum on Fudan University and unemployment benefits, several parties told news channel ATV.

The referendum issues were initiated by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, who only received signature sheets from the National Election Office (NVI) the previous Wednesday.

Since that time, some parties have completely used up their allotted share of sheets, but they will have to wait until NVI provides new ones for them. The parties need to get a total of 200,000 signatures in support of both questions on the petitions in order for a national referendum to be held at the same time as elections in the spring.

The two questions proposed 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?

[Magyar Hang][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

National Election Office pushes back on claims of holding back petition drive efforts

picture of petition signers

The National Election Office (NVI) has pushed back on claims that it is holding back efforts by the opposition to collect signatures for its petition drive, reports 444.

Hungary’s political opposition intends to hold a national referendum on two questions relating to Fudan University and unemployment benefits, but it needs to collect 200,000 signatures first. The parties began their petition drive last week.

But NVI is making this more difficult with its slow pace of issuing signature sheets, claims Everybody’s Hungary Movement (MMM), the organization of the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, Péter Márki-Zay. The opposition got its initial batch of signature sheets from NVI two days late, says the group, and when it requested extra sheets on December 17, the office informed Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony that it could only send them on the 23rd.

Following this, NVI released a statement to MTI explaining that it would be providing “thousands of special-purpose signature collection sheets to organizers for a second time before the legally-required deadline, as with the first request.” NVI noted that it was limited by its supplier’s capacity, and that 26,667 sheets had been provided to Mayor Karácsony as a private person on December 15.

In addition, “contrary to what appeared in the press,” NVI stated that it had received the “organizer’s second request” on the afternoon of December 20, which it processed immediately. NVI also claims that even though the law gives them up to five days to issue the forms, they will be provided to petition organizers on December 23, or two days ahead of the legally-mandated deadline.

[444][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Opposition begins collecting signatures for Fudan referendum

picture of people with petition papers

“Primaries, a referendum, then a nice little change of government,” began Ágnes Kunhalmi in her briefing on the start of the united opposition’s signature collection effort on Wednesday. The opposition needs to get 200,000 signatures together to hold a national referendum on the following questions, which were proposed by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony in the summer:

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?

Kunhalmi, co-chair of the Hungarian Socialist Party, said that the referendum is just the starting point for the change of government, and that not only will opposition coalition parties help with collecting signatures, but also union members, civilians, and the Two-Tailed Dog Party.

On Fudan University, Momentum politician Miklós Hajnal said that the Fudan referendum question is about the future of Hungary, about whether we want to sell the future of our children and grandchildren to one of the institutions of the Chinese Communist Party.

Antal Csárdi from LMP said that building Student City, the proposed location for the Chinese university campus, is important for both Budapest and the country, and that the project provides an opportunity to alleviate the housing problems in the capital.

Dániel Z. Kárpát from Jobbik called Hungary’s leadership the cruelest government in Europe today, adding that they have helped oligarchs during the pandemic-induced emergency, but given up on those who lost their jobs or have had their income reduced.

László Varju from the Democratic Coalition talked about the fact that the current length of unemployment benefits puts people in a vulnerable situation, and many people just prefer to leave the country instead.

Bence Tordai also mentioned the other referendum launched by the government on “child protection” issues, which is expected to appear on next year’s ballot. Referring to the content of the government’s referendum, the Dialogue politician said that there’s no need to protect Hungary from “gender reassignment kindergartens,” but from the deep crisis into which the Orbán government has plunged the country.

[Index][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Curia approves of Mayor Karácsony’s referendum questions

picture of people protesting

The Curia, Hungary’s High Court, validated referendum questions on Wednesday that had been submitted in July by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on Fudan University and the extension of a benefit for job seekers. The Curia upheld a previous ruling from the National Election Commission (NVB) at the end of August, which permitted two of Karácsony’s original five referendum questions.

The questions approved by the Curia 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?

NVB’s approval of the questions, however, were challenged in September by MP János Volner, who typically votes with the governing parties on all important matters despite being a nominally independent Member of Parliament.

In his submission, Volner referred to the lack of clarity on the question and maintaining obligations to international agreements, but the Curia rejected these appeals and upheld the decision of the National Electoral Commission in its Wednesday decision.

In April, a draft leaked in which the government had estimated the cost of building a Hungarian campus of the Chinese Fudan University at 540 billion Ft. (US $1.67 billion), with construction to be carried out primarily with Chinese raw materials, using Chinese labor, and through a Chinese-provided loan that Hungary would have to pay for.

Following the Curia’s decision on Wednesday, Gergely Karácsony wrote that “collecting signatures can start in a few days,” adding that he hoped to get 200,000 signatures this year.

This is an excellent opportunity for the opposition to get back on the streets and show its strength together, as we saw during the primary elections. It will be a test for us to be able to collect these signatures this year, but not impossible

-wrote Karácsony.

The mayor mentioned over a week ago that the Budapest City Council would not veto the 2023 World Athletics Championships over the Fudan University issue, as the two conditions to avoid the veto had been met. In addition, Mayor Karácsony believes the government and the Chinese have long given up on establishing a campus of the Chinese university in Hungary.

[444][Photo: Hungarians protesting the establishment of a Fudan University campus in Budapest, June 2021]