Hungary has a chance to “find its way back” to civic values and Europe at the April 3rd election; the country’s interest is to have peace, security, and progress, Péter Márki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, said late Wednesday. Less than a month ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections in Hungary, the opposition alliance presented their election program, promising among other things new foreign policy, pay raises in the healthcare and education sectors, creation of an anti-corruption agency, and the introduction of the euro within 5 years.
At the event streamed online, Márki-Zay called for “peace in Europe and within Hungary’s borders. Security and reliability, secure livelihood for Hungary and Hungarians. Civic prosperity for all Hungarians, regardless of the colour of their skin, their origin, political views and sexual orientation.”
In order to lift Hungary, we have to abandon Putin-esque methods and policies that betrayed Hungary’s allies, intentionally frayed the unity of Europe, and helped the imperial ambitions of the war criminal Vladimir Putin”
Hungary’s security lies with strengthened border protection, the European Union, and NATO, he said.
If the opposition comes to power, they will maintain the border fence and set up an independent border guard, while stopping “police officers’ emigration” with robust wage hikes, he said.
Márki-Zay also called for a “new, value-based, Western-oriented” foreign policy. The opposition will review international agreements contrary to Hungarian interests, and “expel Fidesz migrants under outstanding international arrest warrants.”
The new government would leave family allowances in place while raising wages and pensions, he said. He added that they would introduce the euro within five years.
We must abandon the misguided and unfair policy which pushed Hungarians into poverty because it was based on a weak forint.”
Should the opposition receive the mandate to govern, they would exempt the minimum wage from PIT without raising PIT for other citizens, and double family allowances and the home care subsidy within four years, he continued.
The 13th-month pension will be maintained but pensions will be calculated according to a more favorable indexing, he said. Furthermore, besides women, men will also be allowed to retire after 40 years of employment; the same threshold for policemen and other servicemen would be 30 years.
Regarding the incumbent government’s reduced utility fee scheme, Márki-Zay said “the real utility fee cut would be to curb corruption.”
He said the EU funds “currently withheld because of the Orban government’s corruption” would offer the swift way out of Hungary’s “almost hopeless economic situation [of] record deficit, record debt, and record inflation.” The “new Hungary’s” energy policy would prioritize energy security and curb the country’s exposure to “Putin’s Russia.” They would re-open negotiations on the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, he said. He pledged “substantial” wage hikes for healthcare and social workers, as well as teachers. Márki-Zay vowed to “reclaim the universities subverted into Fidesz foundations for the nation,” and to strengthen Hungarian universities rather than the “Chinese Communist migrant university.” He pledged to build the originally planned student quarter on the site the incumbent government had designated for Fudan.
Once in government, the opposition would “free sports, culture and the press, restore the rule of law and stand up for minorities,” he said.
Independent lawmaker Ákos Hadházy, representing the Momentum Movement, said the opposition would set up an anti-corruption Prosecutor’s office and join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. An anti-corruption agency would be set up to hold corrupt leaders accountable.
Imre Komjáthi of the Socialists said the government would launch a “wage hike program” for the public sector and strengthen unions. They would scrap the “slave law,” which gives employers larger freedom with employees’ overtime payments, he said.
Tímea Szabó of Párbeszéd pledged to set up an independent healthcare ministry and plough 1.2 billion forints (EUR 3.1bn) into the sector.
The Democratic Coalition’s Gergely Arató said public education will again be mandatory until 18, and would “ensure equal opportunities for all students.”
The main promises of the united opposition’s election program:
- The opposition alliance promises that the border fence would remain, and an independent border guard force would also be set up to protect the borders of Hungary and the European Union, in cooperation with the EU’s border protection agency, Frontex.
- A village police program to be launched and the emigration of police officers would be stopped by a substantial pay rise.
- The opposition wants to pursue a new, values-based foreign policy based on a return to the West and loyalty to allies. International treaties that run counter to Hungarian interests would be reviewed and renegotiated.
- Eliminating Russian and Chinese influence in Hungary: sending home the Russian spy bank IIB, shutting down the expansion project of nuclear power plant Paks, reviewing the Budapest-Belgrade railway contract, and screening the Foreign Ministry.
- Family benefits to remain, wages and pensions to be increased.
- Introduction of the euro within five years.
- Leaving the highest rate of income tax unchanged, the minimum wage to be tax-free in four years.
- Measures to encourage having children would be retained, but in the interest of social justice, childcare allowances, family allowances, and home care allowances would be doubled over four years.
- The joint opposition would keep the 13th-month pension and reintroduce its mixed indexation.
- ’Walk away’ rights would be introduced to protect those who have taken out mortgages.
- The opposition alliance wants to strengthen workers’ rights, including the right to strike. Also, to make flexible retirement available for everyone.
- Increase the maximum duration of the jobseeker’s allowance to nine months.
- Joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and also setting up Hungary’s own anti-corruption agency to tackle corruption cases before and after 2010 alike.
- While Russian energy is indispensable in the short term, the opposition alliance wants to reduce Hungary’s exposure to it, increase renewable energy production, renegotiate Paks 2, and support housing modernization.
- A separate Ministry of Health.
- Giving healthcare workers a pay raise and reducing waiting lists. The opposition alliance wants to make private health services free to reduce waiting lists.
- Coronavirus vaccines not be made compulsory.
- First University degree to be free for everyone. Universities operating in a foundation model would be returned to the state. The Student City in Budapest would be built. Public and parochial schools would be funded equally. Teachers’ salaries would be raised.
- There would be a new, independent environment ministry, and support for renewable energy production, circular farming and energy modernization of buildings.
- The rule of law would be restored.
- A new constitution put to a referendum of the people.
- Including in the constitution that Hungary cannot leave NATO and the EU without a referendum.
- Creation of a fair, proportional electoral system.
- Opening up communist agents’ files.
- The opposition promises to fight all forms of abuse of women and promote the dignity of women.
- Standing up in support of all minorities in Hungary.
- Ensuring freedom and dignity for all, regardless of ethnic origin, skin color, or sexual orientation.
- Creating a better and safer country for Hungarians returning from abroad.
Featured photo via Péter Márki-Zay’s Facebook page