Make the Referendum Invalid!

Hungarian non-governmental organisations, including the Hungarian Europe Society, condemned the anti-refugee referendum announced by the government in a joint declaration on 14 September 2016. They advice citizens to boycott the referendum or to submit an invalid vote.

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Let's Invalidate the Hungarian Refugee Quota Referendum!

We, Hungarian NGOs and citizens with a sense of responsibility for our country, believe in a country where our common matters are managed with humaneness, solidarity and mutual respect. We are concerned about seeing the government threaten our common values, therefore we speak out against the referendum scheduled for October 2, as well as the hate campaign surrounding the vote.

We decided to start a campaign to invalidate the referendum, which fails to promote our common concerns and is both pointless and inhuman.

'Pointless' question

The question put to referendum fails to promote our common concerns. It does not offer a solution either to the situation of refugees or the future of the European Union. It rejects solidarity with our fellow human beings in plight, just like with the other European member states. It has no intention to create a framework for peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that nobody can feel safe in the long run where public discourse is defined by hatred.

The question put to referendum is pointless. No provision on compulsory "resettlement" quotas has ever been adopted, let alone discussed, in the EU. If such a question were put on the agenda in the future, Hungary would have a place at the negotiating table.

Moreover, the response given to the referendum question does not entail any specific legal consequences, nor does it make clear exactly what entitlement the government asks for from the citizens, as this has never been revealed.

'Shattered solidarity'

The question put to a vote is also inhuman. The goal of the referendum and the accompanying campaign is to incite hatred against refugees. Its only potential consequence is the further weakening of the already shattered social solidarity, thereby reinforcing the government in continuing with its hate campaign.

The real question that is going to be at stake on October 2 is whether this country will ever be able to become a humane community. This is the goal we work for 365 days a year — on October 2 and on every other day.

Some of us will cast an invalid vote, while others will boycott the coerced anti-refugee referendum. Our goal is nevertheless the same: to invalidate this referendum.

Join us, share our statement, talk to your friends, colleagues and neighbours. Convince them, too, thus we can prove together: our country is based on humaneness and solidarity.

List of protesting NGOs: Artemisszió Alapítvány, ElevenEmlékmű, Eötvös Károly Közpolitika Intézet, Független Előadó-művészeti Szövetség,Gyerekesély Közhasznú Egyesület, Hálózat a Tanszabadságért, Hívatlanul Hálózat, Humán Platform Egyesület, Közélet Iskolája, Krétakör Alapítvány, Magyar Helsinki Bizottság, Magyar Női Érdekérvényesítő Szövetség, Magyarországi Európa Társaság, Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség, Migration Aid, MigSzol, Oktatói Hálózat, Oltalom Karitatív Egyesület, Opera Közhasznú Kulturális Egyesület, Segítsünk együtt!, Szépírók Társasága, Társaság a Szabadságjogokért

Hillary is the Final Favorite

On 6 June 2016 Szabolcs Panyi, editor-journalist of Index online journal and Csaba Tóth, strategic director of Republikon Institute held presentations about the US presidential elections.

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    Orsolya Zámbó, Jerzy Celichowski, Emil Celichowski, István Hegedűs, Szabolcs Panyi, Csaba Tóth, Györgyi Kocsis, Mustár, László Seres
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    Szabolcs Panyi, Csaba Tóth

Pictures of a Workshop

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    István Hegedűs, Péter Balázs
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    István Hegedűs
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    Boldizsár Nagy
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    Christian Kvorning Lassen, Zsófia Stáhl
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    András Szalai, Györgyi Kocsis
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    Erik Uszkiewicz, András Schweitzer
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    Erzsébet Strausz
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    Peter Weisenbacher, Boldizsár Nagy, István Hegedűs
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    Elżbieta Kużelewska, Boldizsár Nagy
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    Júlia Iván
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    Peter Weisenbacher, Alena Krempaska
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    Igor Ujhazi, Emina Bužinkić
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    Emma Gothár, Michal Cerny, Zsuzsanna Végh, Gabi Gőbl
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    Kata Nagy, Boldizsár Nagy, Györgyi Kocsis
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    Kata Nagy
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    Zsófia Vidák, Emma Gothár
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    Erzsébet Strausz, Dániel Hegedűs, Zsuzsanna Végh
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    András Kováts
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    Kata Nagy, Boldizsár Nagy, István Hegedűs, Peter Weisenbacher, Erzsébet Strausz, András Szalai, Elżbieta Kużelewska, Emina Bužinkić, Igor Ujhazi, Katarina Davidova, Christian Kvorning Lassen, Zsófia Stáhl, Emma Gothár, Alena Krempaska, András Schweitzer, Zsófia Vidák, Erik Uszkiewicz, Györgyi Kocsis

Parallel Political Realities

The Hungarian Europe Society organised an international workshop at the Central European University, Budapest on 30 May 2016. The invited experts discussed how the Visegrad countries reacted to the refugee crisis. The partners of HES were the representatives of the Europeum Institute for European Policy from Prague, the Human Rights Institute from Bratislava, and the Centre for Direct Democracy Studies at the University of Białystok. The host of the event was the CEU Center for European Neighborhood Studies. The project is supported by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit.

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The Refugee Crisis and the Reaction of the Visegrad Countries

Workshop organised by the Hungarian Europe Society and supported by the CEU Center for European Neighborhood Studies and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit

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30 May 2016, Monday 
Venue: Central European University, Popper Room
9 Nádor Street, Budapest, 1051

9.30-9.45 Welcome 

Péter Balázs (director, Center for European Neighborhood Studies, Central European University)

István Hegedűs (chairman, Hungarian Europe Society)

9.45-10.30 Key-note speech

Boldizsár Nagy (associate professor, Central European University): Parallel Realities: Political Crisis in a Legal Framework


10.30-11.30 Historical and Political Background of the Reactions to the Refugee Crisis in Hungary and Beyond

András Schweitzer (vice-chairman, Hungarian Europe Society): Similarities and Differences – Path-dependency in the Region 

István Hegedűs (chairman, Hungarian Europe Society): Illiberal Democracy, Populism, and the Orbán-factor 

Erzsébet Strausz (member, Hungarian Europe Society) – Erik Uszkiewicz: (member, Hungarian Europe Society): Civilian Responses in Hungary


11.30-11.45 Break

11.45-13.30 Refugee Crisis: Government Policies in National Contexts

Christian Kvorning Lassen (research fellow, Europeum Institute for European Policy, Prague): Political Games in the Czech Republic

Peter Weisenbacher (executive director, Human Rights Institute, Bratislava): The Slovak Reaction (Presentation Slides)

Elżbieta Kużelewska (associate professor, Centre for Direct Democracy Studies, University of Bialystok): Poland towards the Refugee Crisis

Júlia Iván (senior legal officer, Hungarian Helsinki Committee): Consequences of the Fence at the Hungarian Borders

András Szalai (researcher, Center for European Neighborhood Studies, Central European University; member, Hungarian Europe Society): Theatrics of Xenophobia: Hungary and the 2015 Migration Crisis


13.30-15.00 Lunch Break

15.00-16.45 The Visegrad Countries in Comparative Perspective

Györgyi Kocsis (vice chair-woman, Hungarian Europe Society) – Kata Nagy (member, Hungarian Europe Society): First Lessons of an Expert Survey

Zsuzsanna Végh (researcher, Center for European Neighborhood Studies, Central European University; vice chair-woman, Hungarian Europe Society): The Political Dynamics of the Visegrad Group during the Refugee Crisis

Igor Ujhazi (chairman, All Together, Novi Sad): Serbia’s Position during the Crisis and the Role of Civil Engagement

Emina Bužinkić (member, Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb): Welcome to Croatia? 

Dániel Hegedűs (research fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations and visiting lecturer, Freie Universität Berlin; member, Hungarian Europe Society): Between Moral Rightness and Political Necessity - German Politics in the Refugee Crisis



András Kováts (director, Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants): Integration, Parallel Societies, Multiculturalism


17.15-17.30 Farewell Remarks

Further participants: Zsófia Vidák, Zsófia Stahl, Emma Gothár, Michal Cerny, Ernő Simon, Kinga Szurday, Jerzy Celichowski (members of the Hungarian Europe Society), Alena Krempaska (Human Rights Institute, Bratislava) and Katarina Davidova (Europeum Institute for European Policy, Prague)

Diplomatic Assessment of the Semester

Gajus Scheltema, Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy to Hungary was the guest of HES on 24 May 2016. The discussion included the priorities elaborated by the Dutch Presidency of the EU Council as well as the challenges facing the European integration. The ambassador called the EU-Turkey agreement a break-through in the management of the migration crisis. He expressed his optimism about the EU membership of Great Britain considering the recent polls about the outcome of the referendum: the country will remain in the European Union. Scheltema had a very positive opinion about the co-operation of the Visegrad Four countries. Since the meeting was off-the-record, the ambassador's views regarding Hungarian domestic politics are not public...

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    György Drótos, Judit Bayer, Zsuzsa Szelényi, András Barta, Gajus Scheltema
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    Gajus Scheltema
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    Gajus Scheltema, Tamás Fóti, Kata Nagy
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    Gajus Scheltema

Solidarity with Protesters in Poland

Declaration of the Hungarian Europe Society
Please find the Declaration in Polish here.

The Hungarian Europe Society expresses solidarity with all Poles protesting against recent steps by the Polish government limiting democracy in Poland.

We are concerned about the measures which are meant to bring the Constitutional Court and the public media under the exclusive control of the Law and Justice (PiS) party led government. 

PiS is attempting to invalidate the mandate of five judges appointed by the previous Sejm – including both the two controversially and even the three lawfully selected candidates – and fill the Court with its own nominees instead. Additionally, it seeks to modify its operation, which will make this institution powerless to ensure the government’s compliance with the constitutional principles. 

The leaders of the public media are rapidly replaced and the institution is put under direct control of the government. This is implemented by PiS claiming that it is building neutral media but the cynical nomination of the party’s spin doctor as the head of the public television proves that PiS is in fact working towards securing full control over the public media. 

New Executive Board Leads HES

The Hungarian Europe Society held its traditional annual workshop and general electoral assembly on 3 January 2016. Firstly András Schweitzer gave a presentation entitled “Party competition and democracy: Has the left-right division become senseless (again)?” Following his speech, Dorka Horváth addressed the audience with her thoughts under the title: “Clicktivism”: online political movements”.
The participating HES-members re-elected István Hegedűs as chairman of the Society and extended the number of members of the Board to four. Györgyi Kocsis, András Schweitzer and Zsuzsanna Végh were elected as vice-chairpersons, whilst the members of the old Supervisory Board, Anita Bakos, Petra Bárd and Zsófia Stáhl, were re-elected.

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    András Schweitzer, István Hegedűs, Iván Tosics, János Kendernay, Kinga Szuly, Anita Bakos, Erik Uszkiewicz
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    Dorka Horváth, István Hegedűs
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    Bársony Fanni, Uszkiewicz Erik, Vidák Zsófia, Stáhl Zsófia, Fóti Tamás, Csákó Mihály, Szurday Kinga, Birizdó Ildikó, Horváth Dorka and Végh Zsuzsanna (on skype)
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    Jerzy Celichowski, István Hegedűs, Nóra Hegedűs, Tamás Molnár, János Kendernay and Mustár (dog)