Richard North, 21/12/2004  

Another one of the new member states has ratified the European Constitution without bothering to call a referendum, possibly because recent turn-outs for elections and, especially, referendums has been very low.

The Hungarian Parliament voted the treaty through without any difficulty, though there seems to be some dispute about numbers. The BBC says that 304 deputies voted in favour with 9 against, 8 abstentions and 64 absent.

The International Herald Tribune says there were 322 votes in favour, 12 against and 8 abstentions with 44 absent. You pays your money and you takes your choice but the result is clear enough, as is the lack of desire to find out what the people of the country think or not think.

The other news from Hungary is that its troops (300 plus equipment) in Iraq are being brought home at the expiration of their mandate, which was not renewed by the Hungarian parliament in view of the forthcoming Iraqi elections. However, Hungary has committed another 150 troops to be sent next June for the probable duration of about one year.

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