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Hungary voted against EU’s migrant quotas, but turnout is to small

Hungary voted against EU’s migrant quotas, but turnout is to smallHungarians on Sunday voted in a referendum in favor to reject the European Union's migrant quotas, Reuters reported on Monday.

But turnout was too low to make the poll valid, frustrating Prime Minister Viktor Orban's hopes of a clear victory with which to challenge Brussels. Nevertheless he said EU policymakers should heed the "outstanding" referendum outcome.

Orban said more Hungarians had rejected the migrant quotas than had voted for European Union membership in a referendum ahead of Hungary's 2004 accession to the bloc. Some 3.249 million votes were cast rejecting the quotas, compared with 2003's 3.056 million votes in favor of joining the EU.

"Thirteen years after a large majority of Hungarians voted at a referendum to join the European Union, today Hungarians made their voices heard again in a European issue," Orban said.

"We have achieved an outstanding result, because we have surpassed the outcome of the accession referendum," he told a news conference at which he did not take questions.

The National Election Office said on its website that 98.3 percent of those who voted had rejected the quotas with 99.97 percent of votes counted. Just 40 percent of around 8.26 million eligible people had cast a valid vote, however, less than the 50 percent needed to legitimize the result. Final results are expected next week.

Along with other ex-Communist countries in Eastern Europe, Hungary opposes a policy that would require all EU countries to take in some of the hundreds of thousands of people seeking asylum in the bloc after arriving last year.

Orban is planning to use the referendum to keep the issue of migration on the political agenda in the run-up to 2018 elections.

Some opposition parties seized on the fact that turnout had fallen short of the threshold needed to validate the vote, with radical nationalist Jobbik calling the referendum "a fiasco" and calling on Orban to quit. Leftist opposition party DK also said Orban should step down.

"Obviously the government tries to sell this as a success, but this is not success: it shows Fidesz could not mobilize more voters than its own voter base plus the Jobbik voters," said Republikon Institute analyst Csaba Toth.
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