Referring to the election campaign, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio on Friday that “Hungary is going forward, not backwards”.
“We need must learn from what happened up to 2010 and [remember] just how much effort it took to put things right,” Orbán said. “And given our success, we cannot afford to go back to those problems.”
“In 2010, Hungary was bankrupt; it had been ruined and bled dry,” he said. “In the past 12 years, Hungary has worked very hard to correct the mistakes and sins of the previous left-wing governments,” he said.
Orbán said that those who “drove the country to bankruptcy then” now claimed to be ready to take the helm again. “That would mean going backwards.”
“All they know is about is introducing austerity measures and cutting pensions … they won’t raise the minimum wage or pensions as they failed to do so when they last had the opportunity.”
When the left wing was last in power, unemployment was over 12 percent and the economy was contracting in 2010, with “sky-high taxes and the IMF breathing down our necks”, Orbán said.
At the same time, “the left-wing parties that are now slamming the health-care system took away one month’s wages from health-care workers and teachers, and one month’s pension from the elderly,” he said.
The ruling government is giving the 13th month pensions and has regularly raised the minimum wage and salaries in certain sectors, he said, adding that the labour market was now tight, tax rates were “very good in European comparison, and economic growth is around 7 percent rather than 2 or 3 percent,” he added.
Orbán said that besides “mistakes and sins committed until 2010”, the leftist parties had also refused to support the government’s efforts to rectify those missteps afterwards. They did not vote for proposals or tax cuts or the re-introduction of the 13th month pension, and regularly attacked recent measures such as the caps on food and fuel prices and the interest rate cap on mortgages with variable interest rates, he said.
Orbán slammed the leftist opposition for “attacking coronavirus protection measures in a way that offends doctors and nurses, and degrades the work done in hospitals.” Hungary’s health-care system is working hard to help all those in need, and workers deserve commendation for that, he said. The vaccine rollout is going well everywhere, he added.
While discussions on the best way to organize pandemic protection efforts are useful, the Hungarian opposition “falsified facts, produced fake videos and weakened the effectiveness of the protection efforts,” he said.
“The left wing cannot differentiate between attacking the government and degrading the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said he was against privatising health-care services, while “health privatization has persistently been included in the left-wing programme because many of them have lobbied for business groups interested in a private health care … they have an interest in opening up business opportunities for international investors.”
While Hungary is “on the right track, it is far from being a rich country yet,” he said, adding that the privatisation of health care would mean low earners being left without health services. The government aims to ensure the best possible services through a state-owned and state-controlled health system, Orban added.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office