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Hungarian Press Roundup: PM Orbán Places Demographic Challenge on Centre Stage

Hungary Today 2019.09.09.

Commentators disagree on the value of the government’s policies to increase family benefits and strengthen Christian values in an attempt to reverse the demographic downturn.

Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu

Background information: at the 3rd Budapest Demographic Summit, government politicians and representatives of Christian and Jewish churches underscored the need to boost the birth rate in Hungary. In his speech, Prime Minister Orbán said that the government wants to increase family subsidies to the point where couples feel better off if they have children than if they remain childless. He warned that if too few children are born, the Hungarian nation may disappear. The State Secretary in charge of family subsidies said that although the fertility rate increased from 1.28 to 1.51 child per woman over the past eight years, Hungary, just like the whole of Europe, is still far from the reproduction rate of 2.1 needed to maintain a population. The Democratic Coalition claimed that the birthrate has not actually increased since 2010. The left-liberal opposition party said that ‘the Prime Minister and his government are the best contraceptives’ and suggested that in order to boost the birth rate, PM Orbán should disappear from the public scene, along with his ‘pseudo-Christian ideas’.

Magyar Hírlap’s Sándor Faggyas welcomes the Prime Minister’s efforts to boost financial incentives to stop Hungary’s demographic decline. Faggyas also agrees with the Prime Minister’s idea that stronger Christian values are indispensable to stop depopulation.

In Magyar Nemzet, Attila Ballai considers depopulation a serious threat. The pro-government commentator claims that demographic decline weakens control over the territory – if a nation cannot reproduce itself, foreign populations will soon ‘invade’ its land. Therefore, bearing children is a vital issue for the nation, Ballai concludes.

Mérce’s András Jámbor calls on the government to ‘get out of women’s wombs’. The alt-left blogger points out that in 2018, the population of Hungary declined by more than 41,000, the highest depopulation rate since the Second World War, and in the first six months of 2019, even less children were born than in the first half of last year. These data, Jámbor continues, suggest that the government’s demographic policies have utterly failed. Jámbor explains the low birth rate with the widespread sense of insecurity, and suggests that will not be possible to change this with Christian nationalist ideology.