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Hungary's Jobbik to resubmit measure banning resettlement of migrants

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Hungarian nationalist opposition party Jobbik said on Monday it would resubmit to parliament a constitutional amendment banning the resettlement of migrants in Hungary.

Gabor Vona, chairman of the far right Jobbik party, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Budapest, April 14, 2015. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

The amendment was submitted by Prime Minister Viktor Orban but fell short of the needed two-thirds majority in parliament last week, largely because Jobbik abstained from voting. But the party’s chairman, Gabor Vona, told reporters he planned to resubmit the amendment, verbatim.

Jobbik said it had blocked the amendment’s passage because of the government’s refusal to scrap a separate scheme allowing foreigners to buy residency rights. Once that scheme is scrapped, Jobbik said, it would support the amendment.

Vona’s version will add a one-sentence provision to the amendment doing away with those so-called residency bonds, which thousands of foreigners, mainly Chinese, have taken advantage of.

“We have always been against the residency bonds,” Vona said. “With the plebiscite after the referendum we received an opportunity to raise this issue in a much more powerful way.”

“It is downright absurd that just two weeks ago, after an anti-immigrant campaign that cost Hungarian taxpayers 15 billion forints ($52.22 million), the government opened a residency bond sales point in Iraq, not far from the center of ISIS.”

He said the residency scheme was one symptom of what he called endemic corruption in the Hungarian state apparatus. The government has rejected the corruption allegations.

Jobbik has consistently advocated a total ban on immigration but voted against the constitutional amendment because they said it was incomplete, with no reference to the residency bonds.

“Now we’ll see how important the constitutional amendment is for (Orban’s party) Fidesz,” Vona said.

Orban had said the amendment was needed to honor an October referendum, in which more than three million Hungarians, an overwhelming majority of those who voted, rejected EU quotas stipulating how many migrants member states must accept.

Giving way to Jobbik’s demand would have been politically difficult for Orban and on Friday he said the government would not resubmit the law.

The latest poll by research center Tarki showed Jobbik’s support at 10 percent in October, down from 14 percent in July. Fidesz widened its support to 32 percent from 30 percent. The next election is due in 2018.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Larry King