Nándor Csepreghy: The European Union’s days are numbered — More talk of Huxit

Nándor Csepreghy, Deputy Minister in the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, disagrees with his boss, János Lázár, who recently toyed with the hypothetical idea of a Hungarian referendum on European Union membership and said that in such a plebiscite, he would vote for Huxit. It is quite widely believed that Mr. Lázár’s suggestion of Hungary’s departure from the EU was a political trial balloon, to see how public opinion would react to such an idea, and whether there would be any major backlash.

Mr. Csepreghy, however, made it clear in an interview with the Népszava daily, that he would “unequivocally” vote to remain in the EU. “I am on the side of European Union membership,” added the 33 year old deputy minister. That having been said, Mr. Csepreghy is unwavering in his support of the Orbán government’s decision to hold an anti-migrant and anti-EU referendum on October 2nd, and he will vote to reject the idea that Hungary may, as a member of the EU, have to share in the burden of the recent refugee crisis and take in a very modest number of arrivals.

“If the EU continues down the path that it has followed over the past decade, then its days are number. While the car is about to drive into the wall, instead of holding the driver responsible, they are condemning those who are sounding the alarm. This is more than irresponsible,” said Mr. Csepreghy. I am not certain that his analogy actually works. When someone is about to drive a car into a wall, I would suggest first responding to the immediate crisis at hand, and only then–once the crisis has been averted–holding the driver to account. But in an EU-wide crisis, Mr. Csepreghy’s government is displaying the same callous lack of solidarity that it displays at home, when dealing with difficult, sometimes tragic social issues.

Despite opposing Huxit, Mr. Csepreghy believes that the EU is continually threatening the sovereignty of member states in key areas. In the case of the refugee and migrant crisis and EU quotas, Mr. Csepreghy notes: “The government will not execute the Union’s diktat.”

Nándor Csepreghy. Photo: József Vajda / Népszava

Nándor Csepreghy. Photo: József Vajda / Népszava

There are questions about whether the referendum is even binding–if participation surpasses 50%, which is by no means guaranteed. Népszava reminded Mr. Csepreghy that according to Hungary’s constitution, referendums can bind parliament, but not necessarily the government. But Mr. Csepreghy believes that the referendum, if successful, makes it legally and “morally” mandatory for the government to act and, presumably, make it clear to the EU that it will not be accepting any distribution of refugees and migrants that is determined at the European Union level. But the question remains: how can a referendum be binding, when the question posed to voters is so muddled and does not task parliament with any kind of concrete legislative task?

Népszava correctly reminded Mr. Csepreghy that he is talking as though his government had no say in what goes on in the EU, yet Prime Minister Viktor Orbán participates in the meetings of the European Council, which takes all final decisions impacting the European Union.

Mr. Csepreghy, however, believes that the European Commission is overstepping its bounds and infringing on the rights of member states. “The European Commission is engaging in a clandestine power grab,” responded the deputy minister.

Mr. Csepreghy is also very optimistic that participation in the referendum will be much higher than 50%, thus making the result valid and binding. “This is a matter of such gravity, that it will result in a surprisingly high turn-out. The voters are interested in whether or not decisions that impact their daily lives can be made above their heads,” said Mr. Csepreghy.

Népszava’s journalists noted in their interview with Mr. Csepreghy that if the referendum is successful, but the Orbán government is unable to change the EU’s approach to migration, then the results of the plebiscite could pave the way for the government to make its case for Hungary’s departure from the EU, or Huxit. More specifically, Parliament could demand that the cabinet begin proceedings for Hungary to leave the European Union.

Mr. Csepreghy argued that since Hungarians voted in a referendum to join the EU, the current plebiscite on migration quotas cannot override that decision.

Yet the Orbán government’s anti-EU rhetoric is getting stronger and more radical each day. It is hard to imagine how one could justify remaining in a Union that is presented to Hungarian voters, by their own government, in such a fiendish light.


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