Another national referendum, another rejection of the Eurocrats in Brussels. This one may not have garnered as much attention from the world media as did the lead-up and results to the Brexit vote in which United Kingdom voters opted to leave the European Union (EU), but it may in the end have an impact just as far-reaching.
Hungarians yesterday voted in a referendum on whether or not to reject the EU mandate that it accept its "quota" of the millions of migrants who have flowed into Europe by land and sea ever since German Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally insisted that Germany would accept "refugees" without limit, thus triggering the stampede. But afterward Merkel used Germany's "first among equals" status at the EU to twist arms and obtain a mandate that insists that all member states should share the wealth. Initial reports suggest that rejection of the mandate was by a staggering 98 percent of those voting.
The lead-up to Hungary's referendum was ugly, and the usual name-calling proliferated amongst elitists in Brussels and elsewhere, including much of the mainstream press, such as those progressivist stalwarts at BBC: words like "nativist", "xenophobic", and "far right" littered the verbal landscape in describing those who wanted to reject the migrant quota.
Even the Washington Post got in on the action with a snarky little article about Hungary's new "border hunter" force, in which of course they ridicule the name even though we have no idea exactly what the word "hunter" connotes in the Hungarian language. Border forces all over the world have different names that reflect linguistic differences: patrol, watch, guard, police, corps, you name it.
The WaPo article also pokes fun at all the whizzbang toys trotted out at a recent recruitment fair for the new force:
During a recruiting fair at a police proving ground here, a gaggle of teenagers ogled a display of machine guns, batons and riot gear. A glossy flier held out the promise of rugged patrols in 4x4s, super-cool equipment to detect body heat, night-vision goggles and migrant-sniffing dogs. ... Because that's how Hungary's new "border hunters" roll.
Apparently, they've never been to a police convention here in the United States, where the same kind of thing goes on. It's part of how enforcement agencies try to draw new recruits. Would Batman be so alluring if he didn't have the Batmobile and all his other nifty tech? Probably not. Besides which, border enforcement is hard and dangerous work. People doing that work should be appropriately armed and equipped. After all, even our president has advocated "bringing a gun to a knife fight", albeit in an entirely different (and, honestly, shabby) context. But I digress.
None of the pejoratives flung out seem to have dissuaded the voters. They seem to agree with the Hungarian prime minister's argument that the referendum was about sovereignty and the right to self-determination, and about a deep concern over the destabilizing effects that a large presence of unassimilated migrants can have — effects that have manifested themselves in other parts of Europe with terrorist attacks, both orchestrated and individual; by an increase in crime, including often enough among-and-between different nationalities of migrants; and deeply disturbing multiple sexual assaults by gangs of young adult migrant males who congregate during public celebrations and festivals throughout a number of European cities and then prey on vulnerable women.
Until Hungary erected its border fence (to the consternation of German and EU officials) and began its border hunter corps, it was experiencing some of these effects itself. One BBC reporter, referring to the main railway station in the capital Budapest, said it looked more like a refugee camp than a train depot, and a good samaritan trying to distribute food and essentials among would-be refugees was jostled and robbed of his goods ... by young adult migrant males who, by the way, constitute the majority of new arrivals Europe-wide.
Once Hungary did institute these border control measures despite pressure from its more populous, more wealthy, and more influential fellow EU members, the number of new arrivals plummeted according to official EU statistics. In the lead-up to the referendum the progressivists then used the reduction in arrivals to argue, hilariously and circularly in my view, that the referendum wasn't necessary.
Now that the referendum is over, these same progressivists are pointing to the fact that voter turnout was only about 43 to 45 percent (depending on which article you read), thus invalidating the results under Hungarian law, which apparently requires a 50 percent voter turnout to be binding.
This "invalidation" argument ignores the blindingly obvious:
- The vote was hugely lopsided in favor of rejecting the EU mandate.
- The vote didn't need to be "binding" in the legal sense to form a basis for the Hungarian government to act, insofar as the government was simply seeking a sense of the public will.
- Even if the referendum were binding in Hungary, there is probably some obscure EU rule that overrides the national will of individual member states' voters (short of voting to leave the EU), so it comes down to whether or not Hungarians wish to accept mandates from far-away bureaucrats who have no skin in the game where their country is concerned.
- Finally, and singularly important as is evident from who didn't vote: Not enough of the population wanted to make Hungary a welcome mat at the EU's insistence or they would have showed up at the polls to reject the premise of the referendum — but they didn't.
Hungarian Prime Minister Orban has indicated that he does, in fact, intend to use the referendum as the basis to reject the EU's demand for quotas — fair enough since he had said he would resign if the majority of those voting rejected his proposal.
This streak of independence signals danger to Brussels, because if Hungary chooses steadfastly to go this route and ignore EU rules — even though Hungary had no say over Merkel unilaterally opening the floodgates in the first place — so likely will a number of other small, besieged central and eastern European states that have been feeling the squeeze from the migrant arrivals, who come from all over the Middle East, Near Asia, the Maghreb, and even sub-Saharan Africa.
A general rising up and rejection of Brussels' iron fist in a velvet glove can signal nothing good for the future of the EU as it is presently configured. But if the Eurocrats exert pressure through financial or other sanctions, they risk an even greater, more damaging revolt by nations emboldened from the Brexit vote.
Meantime Chancellor Merkel is experiencing her own fallout inside Germany. Her political party, which has had a stranglehold on the German polity, has taken a drubbing in a number of regional elections, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which is receiving the same kind of linguistic abuse from liberals and progressives one might expect for a "basket of deplorables" who support sovereignty and border enforcement over unlimited and unrestrained immigration — is making rapid electoral gains, primarily at the expense of Merkel's party.