Will Hungary’s youth be concerned about the 2014 general election at all? More and more of my peers choose to try their luck abroad daily if pollsters and word-of-mouth are to be believed.
Nowadays there is a strong tendency to emigrate: according to researcher firm Tárki half of the 18- to 29-year-old population is planning to pack its bags or has already gone. How can this problem be solved? I asked Gábor Vágó of the green-liberal LMP (Politics can Be Different), founded in 2009. Vágó hasn’t reached 30 yet but is already a member of Parliament’s budget committee, the parliamentary committee on youth and social affairs, and the sub-committee on welfare, which he chairs.
First let me quote one of your Facebook posts: “Which witticism shall I get off in tonight’s Egyenes Beszéd (talkshow called The Straight Talk, carried on liberal broadcaster ATV)? The cliché that calculable economic policy needs accountable leaders, or shall I remind the viewers of an analogy taken from Monty Python, ‘The castle which was built on a marsh’.” Do you think the public expects these well-prepared quips from you?
[Laughing] No, not at all. I didn’t mean it was a cliché, I only flourished my speech with a kind of embellishment at that time and I asked my Facebook followers about their preference.
Talking about social networks, do you use the web to stir the pot? Isn’t it that you simply want to arouse people’s interest, showing yourself as an eccentric?
Well, what I mostly give is myself. If it shows an eccentric, then I’m an eccentric. But I don’t want to put myself in any role which isn’t genuinely me. It comes from inside. If somebody reads my blogs, where I express my opinion as a private person, it is not to rile them up. I don’t want to converse on this level. If I want to do so, I do it in politics.
In the last few months, student demonstrations have basically become a part of our everyday lives. What will all this lead to?
I’m not a TV fortune teller. It’s true that due to these events Fidesz [the Alliance of Young Democrats] lost their young supporters and removed the adjective “young” from themselves.
On the other hand they restrict themselves to a competition for pensioners.
In the long run it can have a negative effect because all the election campaigns will be about pens-ioners, which is far from reality.
I’m fully convinced that we need not only senior citizens but all those other people who contrib-ute to their pens-ions.
The wave of emigration among young people is getting scary. What would be your advice for them?
Speaking about the emigration of young people, I don’t find it terrible that they leave the country. The problem is that the young escape from the country and they never want to come back. My advice for them is to try to find their happiness in Hungary. Unfortunately it’s only a recommendation – at the moment all the channels of social mobility are limited. It’s difficult to start an undertaking because of taxation and sophisticated administration.
You are a member of the parliamentary committee on youth and social affairs. What sort of reforms do you have in mind?
I think we do not need reforms but we should reconstruct the whole system: the greatest problem is that we have no modern system for youth; the existing framework is from 1972. The greatest part of the work that needs to be done is to build up communities for young people, who live in the country and who are not highly educated or educated at all. We should establish offices and create a network, which would show young people that it is possible to live and work in a village, by teaching them how to start an undertaking or a business.
If the LMP were to win the elections in 2014, what kind of position would you like to hold?
I don’t think of positions. I think it is already bad, when someone wants to get into position through politics. Politics cannot be a tool to fulfil individual ambitions.
How could you convince the thousands of first-time voters that it’s worth studying, working, loving and living here, and the only party we can count on to help make this happen is the LMP?
I think everybody has to do their best to learn how to help themselves and to improve their circumstances. It is a false idea to think that politics can solve all your problems. Politics only offers the background to achieve your aims in life. The LMP is a partner giving you a guideline; how young people can realise and accomplish their dreams together. But you can’t expect the LMP to solve these problems all of a sudden and make this place a young people’s paradise.