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A referendum held in early March 2008 has been widely reported. I&R ~ GB reviews the regulations for Citizens' Direct Democracy in a country of the European Union.

From the Constitution of Hungary
Chapter I  General Provisions
Article 2  [Democracy, Rule of Law, Sovereignty]
(1) The Republic of Hungary is an independent, democratic constitutional state.
(2) In the Republic of Hungary supreme power is vested in the people, who exercise their sovereign rights directly and through elected representatives.
The Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
National Level
The "instruments" for direct democracy are Paragraph 28 of the Constitution and the Third Law of 1998 on national referendums and initiatives. Everyone who is eligible to vote in the national elections can participate in referendums and initiatives.

According to the constitution, a referendum can be either consultative or binding.

There are cases in which a referendum is obligatory; otherwise Parliament can choose whether or not to hold one.

If 200,000 eligible voters initiate it a referendum MUST be held; if the referendum is successfully carried out and the quorum reached then the outcome is binding on Parliament.

If the referendum is initiated by 100,000 voters, by the president of the republic, the government, or one third of the Members of Parliament, then Parliament has the right to decide whether or not to hold a referendum.

Before the collection of signatures can begin, a copy of the signature forms must be presented to the National Election Committee (NEC) for verification. The NEC can deny verification only if the question is not in the jurisdiction of Parliament, if it is not eligible for a national referendum, and/or if the formulation of the question and/or the form for collecting signatures does not comply with the law. The initiative can be presented to the chairman of the NEC within 4 months after verification.

An obligatory referendum is automatically binding. Also binding is a referendum on a law adopted by parliament but not yet signed by the president of the republic. A referendum initiated by the president, the government or one third of the members of parliament can be either consultative or binding, depending on the decision of the parliament. A binding referendum is successful if more than 50% of the valid votes cast are in favor and if these represent more than 25% of the electorate.

Referendum March 2008.

Over two hundred thousand endorsements for the referendum proposal had been collected so the government was obliged to organise a referendum.

The referendum addressed three topics
-- Fees paid for visiting a medical practice, 82.5
-- Fee demanded for an inpatient stay in hospital, 84.1
-- Fee (planned for Autumn 2008) demanded from students for attending university or college, 82.3

The electors were called to veto these items of government policy.

The figures shown are the percentage results after 99 percent of votes had been counted.

Some commentators have criticised the referendum topics as trivial but this Initiative may be seen as part of a decade-long campaign to oppose privatisation and commercialisation of health and educational services.

Acknowledgements to IRI-Europe; Der Standard (Austria); net-tribune.de
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We advocate the introduction of direct democratic procedures such as
citizens' initiative, issue-ballot, referendum, and recall in the countries of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  With over ten years' experience
we put forward proposals,  provide campaign resources, offer to provide
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Web site: http://www.iniref.org
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