Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on Saturday presented 18 points of his 99 Movement program. Karácsony, the prime ministerial candidate of Párbeszéd, Socialist and LMP parties, said the first program points contained measures that could be started immediately and implemented “relatively swiftly (…) to provide compensation for the past ten years”.
The program would scrap the section of the Labor Code that provides for the possibility of 400 hours of overtime, known among the opposition and critics as the “slave law”, Karácsony said. They would also “write a new Labor Code together,” he said.
Regarding education, Karácsony called the lowering of the age limit of mandatory education from 18 to 16 years a “sin”, and said his government would create targeted programs “for the youth pushed out of education”. The autonomy of Hungarian tertiary education would be re-established and the new government “would do everything in its power to bring the Central European University back,” he said.
Local authorities would be reinstated as the oversight body of state-owned schools and the disparities between the funding of state-owned and church-owned schools will be remedied by raising the support for the former, he said.
The Fidesz government’s decisions stripping some religious organizations of their church status will be reviewed, he said.
“The crimes against Hungary’s rural areas will have to be remedied” and land privatization laws reviewed, he said.
Of the “many things that should be remedied in the pension system”, Karácsony said his movement saw the plight of those receiving disability pensions as a priority.
Regarding steps to address the problems of the past year, Karácsony said they would fund the restart of SMEs which saw a substantial fall in revenues during the coronavirus epidemic. He also proposed that SMEs which suffered revenue losses above 50 percent should be exempt from paying social contributions.
Jobseekers’ allowances should be extended to nine months, Karácsony said. Those who only received such an allowance for three months under the current legislation should be compensated, as well as those forced into taking sick leaves during the pandemic, he said.
Health-care and social workers would get a one-off wage subsidy of 500,000 forints (EUR 1,440) as a show of gratitude for their work during the pandemic, he said.
Karácsony said the Fidesz government had “punched an enormous hole” into local authorities’ operations by redirecting business tax and vehicle tax revenues during the state of emergency.
Local councils could tax fortunes larger than 500,000,000 forints to recoup the resources, he proposed.
While many companies are fighting for survival after the pandemic, others have “grown amazingly” during the past years, Karácsony said. The new government would introduce a “Mészáros tax” to exact contributions from those who have gained extra profits during the pandemic, he said.
Commenting on Karácsony’s presser, Fidesz communications director István Hollik said the program contained “nothing new in comparison with the leftist program dictated by Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány.”
Karácsony and Gyurcsány “would bring back a politics of the past to which Hungarians have once rejected emphatically, because the left’s and Gyurcsány’s politics have already pushed Hungary to the brink of bankruptcy once,” he said.
Leftist programs show that “Gyurcsány and the others” want to raise taxes, dismantle home creation programs, scrap the reduction of utility fees and “to reinstate paid health care”, Hollik insisted.
Featured photo illustration via Gergely Karácsony’s Facebook page