BUDAPEST: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will seek Tuesday to bar the resettlement of refugees via a constitutional amendment, but the bid could be thwarted by an unlikely opponent — the radical right Jobbik party.
For the populist strongman’s continuing revolt against Brussels to succeed his ruling right-wing Fidesz party needs to pick up two extra votes in parliament to reach a two-thirds majority for the measure to pass.
The anti-immigration Jobbik party is a natural ally on the issue, but it is currently vying with the Socialists as the second most popular party in the country, and laid a surprise ambush for Orban earlier this month.
Spotting a rare opportunity for leverage, Jobbik’s leader Gabor Vona announced after a recent one-on-one meeting with Orban they would vote for the bill only if the government scrapped a controversial cash-for-residency bond scheme for wealthy foreigners, particularly from Russia, China and the Middle East.
Jobbik have long called the residency bonds, generally sold via shady offshore companies, a “dirty business” and a national security risk that could be exploited even by Islamic State jihadists.
“Neither poor nor rich migrants should be allowed to settle in Hungary,” Vona said.
Unused to not getting his own way since winning a supermajority in 2010 and reelection in 2014, Orban was caught off guard by the ultimatum and initially said he would “consider” Vona’s gambit.
But the leader later told parliament that the government “would not give in to blackmail” and urged Jobbik not to connect the bond scheme with the change to the constitution, which he called “an affair of national importance”.
Observers say Tuesday’s knife-edge vote could set the scene for a growing power struggle between Fidesz and Jobbik ahead of the next scheduled general election in 2018.