While we're about populists, here's the case of Orban's Hungary. He's been trying to assert his "unique" role in Europe for a while (we've talked about this recently here
), and now he staged a referendum that he was sure he'd win. The issue was the migration policy that he argued was imposed by Brussels upon the rest of Europe against the will of the people. Although hardly any refugees had entered Hungary at all. But still, he made this into a "thing", and made his countrymen vote on it.
There were jokes before the vote by the anti-Orban circles, saying a Hungarian is more likely to encounter an UFO than an actual refugee. There were calls for boycotting the referendum (a less than 50% turnout would mean the vote would be invalid).
Well, both Orban and his opponents succeeded in a way. He won the referendum by 98%
, but largely because 55% of the eligible voters decided to stay home. So the Yes camp won the referendum, but technically, the referendum failed. Now both Orban can boast of the result and do some chest-thumping and try to assert more positions on major EU issues like migration; but also the Brussels bureaucrats can sigh with relief and probably even rejoice a little because more than half of the Hungarian people have turned their back on Orban.
But don't get me wrong. Most Hungarians are clearly against the current EU migration policy. This should have become clear to Brussels, and those guys better be taking notes, and adjust their approach. On the other hand, the majority of Hungarians obviously realize that this referendum was not so much about the refugees, as much as about Orban. He's evidently trying to keep his base active, and make this about himself. Well, it didn't work. Or in his mind, maybe it did. Kindasorta.
One thing is for sure. Europe needs an extensive, open discussion on the matter of migration. The way decisions are currently being made, and then sent over to the populace, is intransparent, undemocratic, and runs counter to the very "principles" the EU has professed. And, unless this changes soon, more populists like Orban will be gaining ground at the political scene.