BUDAPEST: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed Friday to take his anti-immigration fight to Brussels as he admitted defeat in his effort to get a ban on immigration written into the constitution.
“The theatre of conflict is in Brussels. At home we did everything that we could. Our conscience is clear,” the rightwinger and fierce EU critic said during an interview on public radio.
Orban, 53, has emerged as the standard-bearer of those opposed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open-door” policy, in the wake of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
He has enthusiastically welcomed Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, calling his fellow populist’s triumph “great news” and saying it marked the end of “political correctness” and of “liberal non-democracy”.
The constitutional amendment, personally submitted by Orban to parliament, proposed banning migrant settlement without the approval of the national assembly and authorities.
“Foreign populations cannot be settled in Hungary,” the amendment read.
The bill however failed Tuesday to reach a required two-thirds majority in parliament after the radical nationalist party Jobbik refused to support it.
The party said it would only back the change unless the government scrapped a cash-for-residency scheme for wealthy foreigners.
Jobbik, a natural ally in Orban’s anti-immigration campaign, had “gone over to the opposition side (representing) not the interests of Hungarians but the viewpoint of Brussels,” the premier said Friday.
The setback in parliament followed the voiding of Hungary’s referendum last month on the EU’s mandatory refugee relocation quota plan due to low turnout.
The ballot was still declared a “sweeping victory” by Orban however after over 98 percent of those who voted said “No” in line with the government.
“In the coming weeks and months, the government will continue the struggle to stop immigration… In this struggle, the opposition cannot be counted on,” Orban said.
A meeting of EU heads of government in Brussels on December 15-16 could decide EU immigration policy “for the coming years,” he added. AFP