The group claimed to be “applicants” too, Lukács said. He suggested that the “aggressive provocation” had been organised by the government to thwart the Socialist referendum proposal. Lukács and István Nyakó (pictured below), another Socialist deputy, were waiting for a supreme court Kúria decision to throw out an earlier referendum initiative concerning the contentious Sunday shopping ban. With that move, a new referendum could be proposed, the first submission coming before the Election Office.
Once the Kúria made its decision the Socialist deputies found that their submission had been preceded by two proposals presented by private individuals. Nyakó insisted that though he had arrived first, he was physically held up by the group of men and prevented from having a date stamp on his application. He said that right after the two other individuals stamped their document, the group left the building.

Based on Facebook photos some of the bald people in the group have been identified as security guards of sports club FTC, which is headed by Gábor Kubatov, the national party director of Fidesz. The club subsequently issued a statement that none of the people at the election office are employed by FTC.

The first referendum initiative submitted

asks whether citizens agree that retail shops should remain closed on Sundays in line with the Sunday shop closure law. Nyakó’s referendum question, asking voters whether they agree that Parliament should scrap the shop closure law altogether, was submitted just a few seconds later.
The order in which the questions are submitted is significant because Hungary’s referendum rules state that while a question is being examined by a court, it is not possible to submit another question on the same subject. In line with the law, the Election Office will now assess the initiative that was submitted first, while Nyakó’s initiative will most likely be rejected.
Ilona Pálffy, the head of the National Election Office, has five days to assess whether the question meets the formal requirements of the law and, if it does, submit it to the National Election Committee. The committee will have 30 days to decide whether it will approve or reject the question.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party said it demands answers from the government and Fidesz about what happened at the Election Office. Lawmaker György Szilágyi said the incident was not just about the Socialists not being able to submit a referendum question, but also about Fidesz “feeling like it can do anything”.

Szilágyi said Jobbik wants to know how much the people involved in the incident were paid and from what sources, as well as

who ordered them to be there and what their official assignment was. He said Jobbik would initiate setting up a parliamentary investigative committee led by Jobbik to examine the incident and prevent similar occurrences in future.
The Democratic Coalition (DK) said it was “sickening” that the government used “bulked-up skinheads” to prevent the Socialists from submitting their referendum initiative. Zsolt Gréczy, the party’s spokesman, said that when DK wanted to submit its own referendum initiative on the shopping ban, it was faced with the tightening of the referendum law along with various other legal obstacles.
DK has called on the “democratic opposition parties” to boycott plenary sessions of Parliament – with the exception of votes on bills that require a two-thirds majority to pass – until the legislative body amends the rules on holding referendums and until members of the National Election Committee “who are accomplices of [ruling] Fidesz” resign.

The Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party demanded that the authorities ensure the operation of democratic institutions. PM called it “scandalous” that “one should fight with pumped-up bouncers” before they could exercise their democratic rights. “The government appears to be terrified of facing voters and will not be deterred from any means to thwart free expression,” PM said.

Green party LMP said it would file a criminal complaint. Spokesman István Ferenczi said it

was “not realistic” that “17 skinheads should wake up one morning and all think that they would submit a referendum initiative”. He suggested there is a close resemblance between these people and ones who forcefully removed protesting students from ruling Fidesz headquarters in 2013. Ferenczi insisted that the referendum rules are not adequate but the ruling parties are not interested in changing them.
Gergely Gulyás, Fidesz’s deputy group leader, denied any involvement in Tuesday’s developments. Speaking at a press conference on a different subject, Gulyás admitted that the referendum law was “not ideal” but said it was “better than the earlier act” under which even conflicting referendums could be held. The current law may result in a “chaotic situation” when initiatives are submitted, but the previous legislation could turn the whole referendum process into chaos, he insisted.
The Socialist Party staged a demonstration in front of the National Election Office in the evening. The protest was attended by hundreds of people (pictured), including members of other opposition parties. Socialist leader József Tóbiás said the incident should not have been allowed in a country under the rule of law. He said the government “is afraid” but the prime minister has to respect “the will of the voters”.
Zoltán Gőgös, the party’s deputy leader, said Nyakó was blocked from submitting his referendum question by “a private army” of trained individuals.

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