Hungary PM says will not resubmit law banning settlement of migrants

BUDAPEST: Hungary's government will not resubmit a law to ban the resettlement of migrants after parliament narrowly rejected the plan this week, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Orban had said the amendment was needed to honour 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.

The far-right opposition Jobbik party sealed the bill's rejection by boycotting the vote on Tuesday. It said it would throw its support behind the ban if Orban scrapped a separate government bond scheme that allows foreigners to buy residency rights.

But giving way to Jobbik's demand would have been politically difficult for Orban after the parliamentary defeat.

"We tried to put this (referendum decision) into the constitution but could not achieve this as the opposition sided with Brussels," Orban said in an interview on radio.

As a result, Orban added, his government would have to fight the European Union's migrant quotas in Brussels instead, using Hungary's existing constitution.

Orban said he could rely on his own Fidesz party and its partner the Christian Democrats in his fight now that Jobbik had turned from a radical party into "a bunch of softies" who represented the interests of Brussels instead of Hungary's.

"The battleground is in Brussels, at home we have done what we could, our conscience is clean," he said.

Jobbik is Fidesz's strongest political opponent. The latest poll by research centre Tarki showed its support at 10 percent in October, down from 14 percent in July. Fidesz widened its support to 32 percent from 30, with the opposition Socialists on 9 percent support. The next election is due in 2018.