The Hungarian government’s attempt to amend the constitution to outlaw the forced placing of invader-refugees by the European Union failed after it was unable to raise the required two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Jobbik, which was expected to support the measure and would have been able to provide the necessary votes, abstained after the government refused to repeal another law which allows rich foreigners to buy residence permits.
According to Hungarian media, Jobbik said it would only support the measure if a “cash-for-residency bond scheme,” which allows wealthy foreigners to buy special state bonds for €300,000 ($330,000), giving them the right to live in Hungary, was revoked.
Jobbik argued the immigration ban should apply to all foreigners, but Orbán refused to accede to the request, calling the move “blackmail.”
Jobbik’s leader, Gábor Vona, said his party would only support the constitutional amendment if the prime minister rejected the cash for residence scheme which was allowing wealthy foreigners, particularly from China and the Middle East, to enter and live in Hungary on a permanent basis.
Jobbik have long called the residency bonds, generally sold via shady offshore companies, a “dirty business” and a national security risk that could be exploited even by Islamic State jihadists.
“Neither poor nor rich migrants should be allowed to settle in Hungary,” Vona said.
At a press conference after the vote, Vona said he had met with Orbán but could not convince him that the “residency for cash” scheme was also wrong.
As a result, Orbán was unable to reach the required majority of 133 votes in parliament, falling short by just two.
Vona said that his party could not support “half-solutions” and added that the example of Saudi Arabian Ghaith Rashad Pharaon was a case in point.
Pharaon was at one time an investor in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), an international bank, and was later charged with wire fraud and racketeering conspiracy. He has been wanted by the FBI since 1991 for his role in a massive fraud “involving millions of dollars” in the financial collapse of BCCI. He is also sought by Interpol, and is known as one of the world’s most-wanted white-collar criminals.
Despite this, Pharaon took advantage of the “cash for residency” scheme in 2016, and bought a house in Budapest, right next to Orbán’s personal residence. He also owns at least three large buildings in Budapest city center.
Vona also pointed out that it was clear that the “prime minister and Fidesz prefer to accept dirty money in exchange for the security of the country,” adding that there was even an office in Iraq from which the “residence bonds” were being sold.
He reminded Orbán that a recent analysis revealed that only 9 percent of Fidesz voters supported the “cash for residency” scheme, and that if the government was prepared to revoke the law which enabled this loophole, he could count on Jobbik’s support for the constitutional amendment.
The matter will now go back to intense behind-the-scenes negotiations. Jobbik’s positioning on the matter is clearly an attempt to boost their popularity in Hungary by exposing the hypocrisy of Fidesz. According to recent polls, Vona’s party is now the second largest after Fidesz.