Our correspondent

Hungary’s Anti-Muslim Referendum: an exercise in state sponsored hate

Our correspondent

ON 2ND OCTOBER HUNGARIANS were asked to vote in a referendum on the following convoluted question: “Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?”.

The outcome would not decide anything at all, as the EU could not force the government of Hungary to accept its quota of refugees, 1,294 persons, under rules which Hungary itself had signed up to. Nor was the result, a 98% No vote, of much interest either, as the opposition had called for people to stay away from the polling stations, or to deliberately spoil their ballot papers. The only issue of interest was how many Hungarians would turn up at the polling stations. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s referendum was the first of its kind in the EU. It was staged merely to provide an opportunity to ferment anti-Muslim hate in the country during the long referendum campaign, and to present Viktor Orbán as the National Christian saviour of Hungary. The government forked out an estimated €48.6 million on propaganda, more than Remain and Leave spent together in the Brexit referendum. The country was plastered with the slogan “Don’t risk Hungary’s future. Vote No” on road-side billboards and on placards inside and outside of most public transport vehicles. State television pounded the theme to death: Muslims are terrorists; Muslims will rape; Muslims will destroy Hungary’s Christian heritage.

School were issued with booklets claiming amid the rest of the propaganda that Muslims had made parts of many British cities into no-go areas, prompting complaints from the British Embassy. The tenor of the discourse can best be seen in the remarks of the senior Fidesz politician, Zsolt Bayer, who was recently given a high state award for his journalism:“We, the European natives, European white people” are threatened.

What is waiting for Europeans is “complete annihilation.” It is just a question of time before “European, Christian, white civilisation will disappear forever.” “Go to the steps of Sacré Coeur where blacks who overrun everything sell their junk...” Yet despite the barrage of racist filth the referendum largely backfired, particularly in Budapest, with a low turnout invalidating the legal force of the referendum. The percentage of voters casting a valid vote was a mere 39.9% with as many as a further 6% deliberately spoiling their ballot papers. Orbán had overplayed his hand and many Hungarians felt themselves the victims of a massive state propaganda attack.

Inevitably, Orbán is proclaiming his 98% No vote as a tremendous success and plans to amend the constitution to prevent the settlement of refugees in Hungary. In the first instance Orbán is seeking to secure his continued hegemony in Hungary. But his goal is wider. Across the EU he seeks to destroy not just liberals and socialists, but also traditional Christian Democracy in favour of a virulent and fascistic National Christian agenda.