After Brexit Blow To Brussels, Both Austria And Hungary To Hold Landmark EU Votes On Same Day In October

Both Hungary and Austria are soon to be holding national votes on issues that could strike further hammer-blows against the future of the European Union, and have announced today they are both to share the same date.

In Austria, the state Constitutional Court has just announced the re-run of their presidential election for October second, in which Eurosceptic populist-right candidate Norbert Hofer stands to become the figurehead of the Central European state.

The vote was originally held in May but accusations of malpractice during the counting and sorting of postal votes led to a full investigation by the nation’s highest political court. Over a month later, the court reported that it had found “particularly serious” evidence of votes being handled inappropriately and found the number of votes involved was potentially more than the margin of victory in the photo-finish second round vote.

Green-backed candidate Alexander Van der Bellen beat the populist Norbert Hofer by just 0.6-per-cent, raising the distinct possibility the new vote could see him returned as president.

The successful referendum vote in the United Kingdom on leaving the European Union seems to have emboldened Mr. Hofer, who has now said for the first time that if the Union is not capable of change, he would seek to call a referendum for Austria to leave the EU.

Speaking days after the results came in for Britain’s referendum, Mr. Hofer said: “if it develops into a centralist Union, rather than to reclaim the real core values” then he would put it to a popular vote. He said the increasing centralism of the EU was against the founding principles of the power-bloc, reported the Austrian Kurier.

Following Britain’s vote to leave the EU so closely, and given Mr. Hofer’s new-found scepticism of the European Union, the vote could become a proxy for the nation’s feelings on Brussels, just as much as an election for Austria’s ceremonial head of state.

Hungarian president Janos Ader meanwhile has announced his nation’s forthcoming referendum on the European Union’s migration policies will take place on October the second.

Ader’s office said Tuesday that the question to be asked in the referendum will be: “Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who staunchly opposes immigration, said earlier that a “no” vote would be “in favor of Hungary’s independence and rejecting the mandatory settlement plan.”

Mr. Orban originally announced the referendum in February. He believes a vote against EU policy of migration will give him a powerful bargaining chip in Brussels to cancel the forced redistribution of unwanted migrants across the continent.

Although he supports the continued existence of the European Union, Mr. Orban’s comments on the direction of travel fo the power bloc reflect those made by Mr. Hofer in Austria. Speaking earlier this month while visiting Brussels, Orban said: “You do not sit on a horse backwards. The EU is not in Brussels. It has 27 — presently 28 — capital cities… we must return to the idea that the European Union is based on members rather than EU institutions”.

Mr. Orban said he was declaring “war” on Brussels to bring about change in the way the Union was run, although he has so far had little luck. His country is presently being taken to court by the EU for refusing to accept migrants and may be fined.

The Associated Press Contributed To This Story

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