EU ‘cannot force’ Hungary to accept migrants: PM Viktor Orban

"Brussels cannot force its will on Hungary," the defiant firebrand leader told his supporters.

By: AFP | Budapest | Published:October 3, 2016 3:15 am
Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban delivers a speech in front of supporters in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Hungarians overwhelmingly supported the government in a referendum on Sunday called to oppose any future, mandatory European Union quotas for accepting relocated asylum seekers but nearly complete official results showed the ballot was invalid due to low voter turnout.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban delivers a speech in front of supporters in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the EU could not force Hungary to accept migrants on its soil, after low voter turnout voided his referendum aimed at rejecting a contested quota plan.

“Brussels cannot force its will on Hungary,” the defiant firebrand leader told his supporters on Sunday in Budapest.

Although a whopping 99.8 percent of those who voted supported his bid to reject the proposal, turnout was just 44 percent, falling short of a 50-percent threshold.

Among the ballots cast only 39 percent were actually valid, the National Election Committee said as it declared the referendum void after counting the ballots on yesterday evening.

But Orban vowed there would be “legal consequences” nonetheless, as he sought to downplay the significance of the low turnout.

“Brussels or Budapest, that was the question, and the people said Budapest,” he said.

“I will propose to change the constitution (which) shall reflect the will of the people. We will make Brussels understand that it cannot ignore the will of Hungarian voters.”

Opposition figures earlier warned that any legal amendment based on the referendum result would violate the constitution.

“It looks like (Orban) wants to continue his fight with the EU on its migration policy, and the constitutional amendment is his way of doing that as it might trigger legal fights” with Brussels, analyst Bulcsu Hunyadi told AFP.

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