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’30s Populism’ vs. ‘Poor, Miserable Creature’: Hungary and Sweden’s Conflict over Family Policy Continues to Escalate

Gábor Sarnyai 2019.02.20.

The Hungarian ambassador to Sweden has been summoned to a meeting with representatives of the Foreign Ministry following a heated exchange with a Swedish Minister over the Hungarian government’s new family policy. 

In a tweet, the Swedish Minister for Social Security Annika Strandhäll said that Hungary’s “alarming” policies were “reeking of the 1930s.” She suggested the Hungarian PM, who she claimed is seeking to promote the birth of “more true Hungarian” babies, is a “right-wing populist trying to obscure the consequences of those policies to the independence women have fought for.”

Foreign Minister Szijjártó Dismisses Swedish Minister’s Criticism

“What is happening in Hungary is alarming. Now (Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor) Orban wants to appear more “real” Hungarian children. The policy is reminiscent of the 30-ies,” Strandhill wrote last week on Twitter.

In reaction, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén called Strandhill a “poor, miserable creature” on Echo TV:

“What else should Hungary want if not Hungarian children born in Hungary? I believe what this poor, miserable creature has said is an abnormality in itself.”

According to Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pezhman Fivrin, this statement triggered the summons.

Zsolt Semjén reacted to the summons by saying, “That’s right! At least the Swedes will have an opportunity to apologize for their minister’s claims.”

Hungary Summons Swedish Ambassador over Minister’s Critical Remarks

While answering a question at a press conference on a different subject, Péter Szijjártó said Strandhall had used an “unacceptable” tone in her tweet. He revealed that, while at the ministry, the Swedish ambassador had been told that Strandhäll’s comments, too, were intolerable.

Featured Image: Nemzeti.net/ Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén