Gergely Kovacs, leader of the Two-Tailed Dog Party, plays with his dogs in Budapest, Hungary, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo(reuters_tickers)
By Marton Dunai
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A spoof political party that encouraged Hungarians to draw penises on their ballot papers in last Sunday's referendum on migration is now turning its sights towards parliamentary elections in 2018.
The Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP) urged voters to defy Prime Minister Viktor Orban by spoiling their papers rather than support his call to oppose European Union quotas stipulating how many refugees the country should take in.
The national election office said 6.2 percent of votes cast were invalid, and the MKKP showed Reuters pictures it had collected of ballot papers decorated with Batmans, elephants and penises. Some were even adorned with real barbed wire - an allusion to Hungary's razor wire fence at its southern border.
More than 98 percent of valid votes were in support of the government, but turnout was too low to make the poll valid. Boosted by the result, the MKKP says it is dreaming of winning power.
"You create a party to win elections," Chairman Gergely Kovacs told Reuters in his log cabin in a forest above Budapest, which he shares with four retrievers.
"Once we win the election we will take six months off. We promised our voters that."
The party, started a decade ago as a joke, has become a semi-serious force. It uses humour to tackle real issues like the national response to refugees, whom the government has vilified since the start of the migration crisis.
For the referendum campaign, Orban's government flooded the country with billboards asking questions like: "Did you know? Migrants perpetrated the Paris attacks", and "Did you know? Brussels wants to resettle a town-full of migrants in Hungary."
The Two-Tailed Dogs responded with their own posters: "Did you know? Over 1 million Hungarians want to relocate to Western Europe." Or "Did you know? There is a war in Syria."
Another billboard, in English, declared: "Hi Brussels, we still love your money."
The MKKP justified its ballot-spoiling campaign as "a stupid answer to a stupid question". "We thought the government's biggest fault is... turning millions of people into evil haters," Kovacs said. "We thought we had to confront that."
And while waiting for the elections in two years' time, the party also has another idea - to seek a referendum on whether Hungarians would like another referendum.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)