Hungary's nationalist Jobbik party to resubmit measure to ban resettlement of refugees

Jobbik has consistently advocated a total ban on immigration but voted against the constitutional amendment because they said it was incomplete, with no reference to the residency bonds

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The Independent Online

Hungary’s nationalist opposition party Jobbik has said it will resubmit to parliament a constitutional amendment banning the resettlement of refugees in the country.

The amendment was submitted by Prime Minister Viktor Orban but fell short of the needed two-thirds majority in parliament last week, largely because Jobbik abstained from voting. But the party's chairman, Gabor Vona, told reporters he planned to resubmit the amendment verbatim, with a one-sentence addition.

Jobbik said it had blocked the amendment’s passage because of the government’s refusal to scrap a separate scheme allowing foreigners to buy residency rights. Once that scheme is scrapped, Jobbik said, it would support the amendment.

Mr Vona’s version will add a one-sentence provision to the amendment doing away with the so-called residency bonds, of which thousands of foreign inhabitants have taken advantage.

“We have always been against the residency bonds,” Mr Vona said. “With the plebiscite after the referendum we received an opportunity to raise this issue in a much more powerful way.”

“It is downright absurd that just two weeks ago, after an anti-immigrant campaign ... the government opened a residency bond sales point in Iraq, not far from the centre of Isis.”

He said the residency scheme was one symptom of what he called endemic corruption in the Hungarian state apparatus. The government has rejected the corruption allegations.

Jobbik has consistently advocated a total ban on immigration but voted against the constitutional amendment because they said it was incomplete, with no reference to the residency bonds.

“Now we'll see how important the constitutional amendment is for [Mr Orban's party] Fidesz,” Mr Vona said.

Mr Orban had said the amendment was needed to honour an October referendum, in which more than three million Hungarians, an overwhelming majority of those who voted, rejected EU quotas stipulating how many refugees and migrants member states must accept.

Giving way to Jobbik's demand would have been politically difficult for Mr Orban and on Friday he said the government would not resubmit the law.

The latest poll by research centre Tarki showed Jobbik's support at 10 per cent in October, down from 14 per cent in July. Fidesz widened its support to 32 per cent from 30 per cent. The next election is due in 2018.

In the face of such strong opposition to refugee and migrant quotas, the European Union signalled on Monday that it might not take action against countries refusing to share refugees from Greece and Italy as long as enough people find new homes. 

EU countries agreed last September to relocate 160,000 refugees from overwhelmed Greece and Italy by September 2017 and set obligatory quotas for each nation. 

While only around 7,000 refugees have been moved more than half way through the program, the European Commission says the pace is accelerating and could meet the goal by the target date. 

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said that “it should be possible to relocate everyone and that is what it is important to focus on.” 

Asked when legal action might come against those refusing to help, she said that if the overall target “is achieved, then that was the purpose of the relocation program in the first place.” 

The European Commission does, however, “reserve the right to take action” against those who don't comply. 

As of last Friday, Austria, Denmark and Hungary had not accepted any refugees at all under the programme. 

Reuters and Associated Press