Hungarian fees abolishment referendum, 2008

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Fidesz posters at Hungarian fees abolishment referendum, 2008.
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A referendum on revoking some medical and tuition fees was held in Hungary on 9 March 2008.[1] The proposals would cancel government reforms which introduced doctor visit fees paid per visitation and medical fees paid per number of days spent in hospital as well as tuition fees in higher education. All three were supported by a majority of voters.[2] The Prime Minister stated that the fees would be abolished on 1 April 2008 following the referendum, but that the government had no funds available to replace the income lost for the higher educations institutions and health institutions due to the abolishment of the fees.

Background[edit]

The referendum was initiated by opposition party Fidesz against the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). The procedure for the referendum started on 23 October 2006, when Viktor Orbán, the leader of Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union announced they would hand in seven questions to the National Electorate Office, three of which (on abolishing co-payments, daily fees and college tuition fees) were officially approved on 17 December 2007 and called on 24 January 2008. It is assumed likely that the referendum will pass, but it is uncertain whether turnout will be high enough to make it valid;[3] polls indicate about 40% turnout with 80% in favour of rescinding the three reforms.[4]

To be valid, the referendum required at least 25% of the about 8 million eligible voters to vote in favour of one of the options.

Questions[edit]

  1. Do you agree that inpatient care should be exempt from daily hospital fees with effect from 1 January in the year after the referendum is held on the present issue?[2]
  2. Do you agree that family doctor care, dentistry care and special outpatient care should be exempt from consultation fees with effect from 1 January in the year after the referendum is held on the present issue?[2]
  3. Do you agree that students in state-subsidised higher education should be exempt from tuition fees?[2]

Results[edit]

Question I[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 3,385,981 84.1
Against 640,936 15.9
Invalid/blank votes 32,268
Total 4,059,185 100
Registered voters/turnout 8,040,125 50.5
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, National Election Office

Question II[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 3,321,313 82.4
Against 708,283 17.6
Invalid/blank votes 29,605
Total 4,059,201 100
Registered voters/turnout 8,040,125 50.5
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, National Election Office

Question III[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 3,309,616 82.2
Against 715,642 17.8
Invalid/blank votes 33,863
Total 4,059,121 100
Registered voters/turnout 8,040,125 50.5
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, National Election Office

Turnout[edit]

On the day of the referendum, the following turnout data was reported:

Time %
By 07:00 1.13
By 09:00 7.66
By 11:00 18.69
By 13:00 26.92
By 15:00 35.71
By 17:30 46.34
By 19:00 50.48

Voting was possible between 6:00 and 19:00. Official results showed that the necessary votes were achieved, with a turnout of over 50% (higher than opinion polls had expected).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p899 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ a b c d Nohlen & Stöver, p913
  3. ^ "Hungarian president announces referendum date", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), 24 January 2008.
  4. ^ Hungary's ruling MSZP vows to stick to medical reforms despite referendum - People's Daily Online