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Words in the News
Monday 14 April 2003
People of Hungary vote 'Yes'
Hungary at night The people of Hungary have voted "yes" to EU membership in a legally binding referendum. But the percentage of voters was low, suggesting that many Hungarians expressed their disapproval or fears about membership by not voting. This report by Nick Thorpe:
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Fireworks lit up the night sky over the River Danube in Budapest to the tune of Beethoven's 9th Symphony after the results were announced. According to preliminary, unofficial figures, a large majority, some eighty four per cent, voted in favour. But turnout was extremely disappointing, only around forty five per cent of eligible voters. This was much less than the resounding "yes" the government had been hoping for and somewhat embarrassing for Hungary.

The Prime Minister, Peter Medgyessy, put a brave face on the result nevertheless. The citizens of Hungary, he said, in a speech in front of the Academy of Sciences, like good parents, had provided a future for their children. Rival explanations have been advanced for the poor turnout. The campaign was one-sided with no state funds at all provided for the small civil groups campaigning for a "no" vote.

Many Hungarians expressed their worries about accession by staying away. But the result was valid, so the Prime Minister is now authorised to sign the accession treaty next week in Athens, and Hungary will join the union in May next year.

Nick Thorpe, BBC, Budapest
Listen Listen to the words
in favour
in support
the turnout in an election or referendum is the number of people who vote in it
eligible voters
people allowed to vote
very great, definite
put a brave face on
if you put a brave face on a difficult situation, you pretend that the situation is better than it really is
alternative, competing
If you advance an explanation for something you give reasons for it
a set of activities planned to achieve something such as social or political change
In a one-sided activity, one of the sides involved does much more or is much stronger than the other, and not all the facts are made clear
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