“Hungary has been plundered,” Péter Márki-Zay, prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, said in a speech assessing the state of the country.
Márki-Zay said in the speech streamed online on Thursday that the government had plundered the country’s economy over the past twelve years, and he also accused it of turning health services into businesses run for profit and ruining the education system and family policies.
Further, the candidate who is also the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely insisted that the Fidesz-run government bore responsibility for a depreciation of Hungary’s international standing.
Márki-Zay insisted the government had “abused” its two-thirds majority, adding that the “tens of thousands of billions” received in EU funding Hungary could have used to narrow disparities “if not with Austria but with many other countries in the region”.
“Instead, Hungary is doing worse than Romania,” he said.
“Untrammeled power leads to limitless corruption,” Márki-Zay said, adding that the country had become among “the most corrupt and poorest nations in the EU”, and one in which people’s lives were the shortest.
“Ever since 2010, the country has been going down rather than forward in almost all areas: not only in terms of corruption, mortality, impoverishment, but concerning its international credit rating and the state of the rule of law,” Márki-Zay said.
He noted, however, the government’s public works schemes, a ban on gambling machines and smoking in enclosed public spaces, dual citizenship to ethnic kin and the fence along Hungary’s southern borders as “achievements to be appreciated and retained”.
Concerning Prime Minister Viktor Orbán‘s recent assessment of the past year, Márki-Zay slammed Orbán for “failing to show any sympathy” over the 43,000 Hungarians lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
Márki-Zay also criticised the political elite for “excluding millions of Hungarians from opportunities to find prosperity” while “some of them have amassed limitless wealth”. “A prime minister pretending to have no savings is now the richest of Hungary’s privileged,” he said.
Teachers “stripped of their freedom” and a neglected health care with run-down facilities and staff quitting are the “most obvious failures” of the government, Márki-Zay said.
Concerning pensions, he said their buying power had been reduced by 13 percent in the past four years, and insisted that the recently re-introduced 13th month pensions did not compensate for that. “When the government is talking about a 5 percent pension hike as against 10 percent inflation, it translates into a five-percent cut in pensions,” he said.
Márki-Zay called for a government not “subservient” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and which “does not scrap plans to build accommodation for Hungarian students for the sake of a Chinese communist migrant university“. The next government should double the family allowance, increase the minimum pension and cut taxes on minimum wages to help the poorest, he added.
The opposition, if it forms the next government, will increase wages to prevent teachers, police officers, health care and welfare staff from quitting their jobs, Márki-Zay said. He added that they would scrap waiting lists for hospital procedures and “if necessary, make even private health services free of charge”.
Márki-Zay said education was much too centralised and pledged that “culture will be freed and universities reinstated to students”.
Hungary will join the European Prosecutor’s Office and set up an anti-corruption prosecutor’s office of its own, he said. An opposition government will start preparations for the introduction of the euro, reduce VAT on basic food products, and scrap the state monopoly on tobacco, he said.
An opposition government will “take the principle of equality before the law seriously” and fight all forms of discrimination and help the Roma minority close the gap with majority society, he said, adding that the opposition would “review and renegotiate” the Paks nuclear plant upgrade and the Budapest-Belgrade railway project agreements.
Under a new government, Hungary will be “a faithful ally” to the European Union and NATO, he said.
Donáth: opposition believes Hungary belongs to everyone
Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony, who co-leads the Párbeszéd party, said the united opposition’s job in the run-up to the election was to “touch the hearts of the Hungarian people” amid “the hate, incessant confrontation, stifling injustice, and feelings of vulnerability and stagnation”.
Co-leader of LMP Máté Kanász-Nagy insisted that Hungary was an “unjust and unsustainable country”, with an increasing number of people sliding into poverty while others “accumulate unbelievable wealth”.
Socialist (MSZP) co-leader Ágnes Kunhalmi stressed the importance of “justice, solidarity and narrowing social disparities”, adding that societies can withstand crises only if these principles prevail in everyday life.
Momentum leader Anna Donáth said that the politicians under the umbrella of the united opposition believed Hungary belonged to everyone, and they felt solidarity with people experiencing hardships and suffering.
Jobbik leader Péter Jakab said the opposition parties had learned from their mistakes made in 2018, realising that “we [together] are the solution” rather than “I am the solution”. He added that “thieves will pay the price”, and he wished all Hungarians prosperity.
The Democratic Coalition‘s MEP Klára Dobrev said that at stake in the April election was whether democratic politicians, the free press, and civilians who disagreed with the government would be silenced, or whether Hungary would be “a free, fair, European” country.
featured image via Péter Márki-Zay’s Facebook page