Hungary is led by eurosceptic president Viktor Orban, who had vowed to quit as the country’s leader if he failed to win a majority.
And there was a blow to his pride with the voter turnout at just 42 per cent, well below the 50 per cent threshold required to make the referendum valid in Hungarian law.
The result means that more than three million people voted to reject the quotas, but one election analyst still described the vote as a “fiasco” for Mr Orban, who staked his reputation on a strong public backlash against the EU.
But a triumphant Mr Orban roared back: “The results of the referendum are great. This will be a strong enough weapon for us in Brussels.
“Hungary voted to keep its freedom, its right to decide who we want to live together with, and we decided that we won’t give this right to Brussels.
“We can be proud that Hungarian people were the first to be given the right to express their opinion on Brussels politics.”