On Sunday, more than 1.6 million people cast invalid votes to reject the government’s manipulative and fear-inducing referendum. The invalidity of the referendum shows that those who do not support the government’s exclusionary policies are in the majority in Hungary. Five days after the government’s propaganda referendum failed miserably, the National Election Committee suddenly realised that the months-long campaign “defeats the constitutional purpose of the exercise of power”.
The NEC imposed fines of 176 400 HUF on 16 NGOs – including some that did not take part in the campaign to encourage invalid voting -, and a further 3-3 million on the two main organisers of the campaign, Amnesty International Hungary and Háttér Society.
The fines, nearly 9 million HUF in total, are aimed at silencing the huge community that exercised its right to free expression and democratically defeated the government’s propaganda-referendum.
The NEC also underlined the importance of citizens being able to participate directly in the decision making process on the most important issues affecting the fate of the country, through a referendum. On Sunday, people sent a direct message through the referendum: enough with the Putin propaganda, stop hate speech! The result of the referendum is clear: the Putin propaganda law must be repealed. The NEC’s illegal decision tells us one thing: it is no longer enough to hide the fact that the referendum turned out invalid, the government is scared and now, through imposing fines, wants to silence those who have invalidated its homophobic and transphobic campaign.
“We will not be intimidated. It is clear that they are trying to silence us because of the success of the campaign and civil unity. We will challenge the NEC’s decision in the Curia, this clearly illegal fine will be overturned.” – said Dávid Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary.
“The past months have shown what we can do together. The invalidity of the referendum has given hope to many people. We will not let that be taken away from us. We will continue to work for a safe and free Hungary for all.” – said Luca Dudits, spokesperson of Háttér Society.