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Hungarian Political Parties Hold Campaign-Opening Events for 2018 Elections

By Tom Szigeti // 2018.02.19.

Over the weekend, a number of Hungary’s political parties held large events that served as launchpads into this year’s parliamentary elections, which will be held in April. These gatherings also served as opportunities for party leaders to give speeches expounding their visions for the future and attacking their opponents.

 

Prime Minister at his “state of the nation address” on February 18th (Photo: MTI – Zoltán Máthé) 

Orbán on Hungary, Christianity and the Migrant Crisis

 “For us, Hungary comes first,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán argued in a keynote speech assessing his government’s performance since it entered power in 2010.

“The past eight years have been a success, and better than we expected”, Orbán said in a wide-ranging 50-minute speech given at the foot of the Royal Castle. His Fidesz government had promised to create 1 million jobs in 10 years, he said, and now there were 736,000 new jobs. Orbán also made note of the agreement to raise wages and cut taxes.

Speaking ahead of the April general election, Orbán also noted that pensioners had received an extra payment at Christmas time. He said the country looked better than it did eight years ago but he added: “We have not yet finished our work; there’s still plenty left to do”.

Hungary, he said, was a place where “hard work is rewarded; a place where more people are in work, taking home more and keeping families across the country.”

“The Hungarian model is working,” Orbán insisted. Its success was due to “the millions of Hungarians who believe in it,” he added. “To honour work, support families, retain national identity, preserve independence; this is the future and this future can be ours.”

In his 20th “state of the nation speech” assessing his government’s performance, Orbán noted that over 50% of the Hungarian banking sector was now “in the hands of the nation” and this was also true of the media. He added that there would be no national independence without a Hungarian banking system and media.

“We now have our independence,” he said, warning however that this independence would have to be protected “from time to time”.

“We are not only a civic government but a government of the nation,” Orbán said. “The homeland comes before all else.” “Our fame, renown and influence punches above the country’s size and economic weight,” he said.

Orbán insisted that eight years of the Fidesz governing in alliance with the Christian Democrats had led to the end of “political correctness” in the country and of “euro-blah-blah, prissy liberalism and politically correct hot air”. “We are sending the muzzle back to Brussels and the leash back to the IMF.” “Here in Budapest, we say what we think and do as we say,” Orbán said, adding that this was a great luxury in today’s European political climate.

Addressing the 30 years of the Fidesz party, he emphasised the party’s “anticommunism and patriotism”. Fidesz, he added, was different from the country’s other parties because “we love Hungary passionately and we would do anything for it.”

Orbán bemoaned what he insisted was the lamentable state of Hungary’s opposition parties. “Hungary deserves better,” he said. “It is no wonder there seems to be a general will to change the opposition rather than the government,” he said.

Speaking behind a lectern carrying the slogan “Hungary comes first”, the prime minister spoke about “the dispute between western and central Europe”, insisting that western Europe had become a zone of immigration and mixed populations, while central Europe was moving in the direction of a new future of development in various ways.

Orbán spoke of Hungary’s role as a bastion against migration, praising the “exemplary performance of the Hungarian police force” and the double border fence which “has successfully protected the country’s southern border”.

He warned, however, of dangers coming from the west, saying politicians in Berlin, Brussels and Paris were “the source of that danger” because they pressured Hungary into adopting policies “that have turned their lands into immigrant countries and opened the door to the decline of Christianity and the spread of Islam.”

“It’s fashionable these days to say that Hungary should be similar to them out of solidarity … so let’s make it clear: Hungary stands in solidarity with those western Europeans and their leaders who want to save their countries and their Christian culture,” Orbán said. “We think that Christianity is Europe’s last hope,” he said.

Orbán said the Visegrád Group was stable and that Austria had recently “turned towards patriotic, Christian policies”. He added that Germany’s CSU and Italy’s Forza Italia were symbols of “common sense and national and cultural confidence”.

The government, he said, would “not stand idly by while there are those who are crafting the implementation of the Soros Plan.” According to the PM, Fidesz’s controversial “Stop Soros” bill was the first step.

Accordingly, he noted that anyone preoccupied with migration and migrants would have to apply for a national security license to carry out their activities and the government would redirect a portion of foreign donations for “migrant-friendly NGOs” towards border protection. Further, the NGOs would have to be transparent about their finances and those “who fail to abort their dangerous plans will be banned, however powerful or rich they may be”.

“We will also fight in the international arena,” he said, adding that on Monday he will hand over to the holder of the rotating European Council presidency a European legislative proposal for ensuring the “airtight protection” of Europe’s borders. Orbán also pledged to fight against the “Soros plan” in Brussels and the United Nations.

“We are not alone and we are going to fight to curb Soros’s plan, as presented in Brussels and at the UN, or to stop it if we can find allies. We have good a chance of doing so, and I think we will prevail in the end,” he said, concluding his speech with his customary slogan: “Go Hungary; go Hungarians.”

 

Former Socialist Prime Minister and Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány speaking at his party’s campaign event on February 17th (Photo: MTI – Zoltán Máthé) 

DK’s Gyurcsány Attacks “Fidesz Oligarchs,” Corruption, and Church “Privileges”

Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of the leftist Democratic Coalition (DK), set out his party’s platform over the weekend, promising a new electoral law, a fresh wage agreement and formula for raising the value of pensions.

Addressing DK’s party congress and campaign opener, the former Socialist prime minister said the first task on winning office would be to sack Hungary’s public prosecutor, Péter Polt, and join the European Union’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which 20 EU member states signed up to in October last year.

Gyurcsány also promised to increase the wages of doctors and nurses by half as much again and procure 150 CT and MRI machines. He said the minimum wage should be raised so that it reaches the minimum subsistence level.

As for pensions, he said a formula would be implemented that would incorporate the economic rate of growth and inflation rate into the calculation for payment increases.

Gyurcsány also said a DK government would put an end to financial damage done to the state due to “Fidesz oligarchs”.

He pledged to introduce a basic internet service that would be free of charge. Further, he pledged to restore the school-leaving age to 18 from 16 and reintroduce four-year vocational training. Moreover, he would abolish “privileges” enjoyed by church-run schools. Gyurcsány said a DK administration would revise the Vatican Treaty, and set up an independent committee to investigate cases of abuse within the church.

 

LMP co-leader and prime-ministerial candidate Bernadett Szél speaking at her party’s campaign event on February 17th in Budapest (Photo: MTI – Zoltán Máthé) 

Hungarian Green Party LMP Calls for Unity, “Normal Wages”

The upcoming general election in Hungary will determine the country’s future for the next few decades, Bernadett Szél, the green LMP (Politics Can Be Different) party’s candidate for prime minister, said in a speech.

Szél said that like one-time conservative premier József Antall, she wanted to be the head of government for all 15 million Hungarians, and this meant being prime minister not only for the Hungarians living beyond the country’s borders but also for the hundreds of thousands who have emigrated. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, she added, was only interested in the 2 million voters who backed his ruling Fidesz party.

The LMP co-leader insisted that currently governance was absent in Hungary and instead propaganda determined policy. She warned that if the current Fidesz government were to lose the confidence placed in it, the opposition benches would not await its members but rather the gates of prison.

Szél said the cornerstone of LMP’s manifesto was to guarantee “normal wages”. She savaged the government’s policy on support for families, saying Hungary had not overcome its demographic crisis and that the number of workers living in poverty had doubled since 2010.

She vowed to allocate 20% of the budget to education and raise wages in health care significantly. She also insisted that LMP devoted attention to women’s issues, adding that “the time when male politicians dictate to women about their place in the world is over.”

 

Momentum Movement leader and prime ministerial candidate András Fekete-Győr, appearing via hologram at his party’s campaign event in Budapest (Photo: Facebook)

Appearing in Hologram, Momentum Leader Praises “New Political Generation”

At a campaign launch ahead of the April general election, the leader of the Momentum Movement, András Fekete-Győr, said it was only a new political generation that could offer hope. Fekete-Győr, who was not in Budapest at the time, appeared at the event in hologram form.

He said a generation of two million people had become “political orphans”. “We are every third employee,” the liberal opposition politician said. “Cheated voters” were “fed up” and wanted to get past “the old, bad political stereotypes”.

He concluded his speech by saying:

There are still 50 days to go; there is a choice, there’s hope, come with us!

Momentum is a group which came into the political spotlight last year with its successful signature-collection drive for a referendum on Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The signature drive was a massive success, with around 266,000 signatures collected; shortly thereafter, the Hungarian government and the Budapest City Council decided to officially withdraw Budapest’s bid.

 

Via MTI, Hungary Matters, and Reuters

Images via MTI and Facebook