Csaba Domotor (l) and Istvan Ujhelyi in Tihany – Photo: Facebook

Hungary leaving crisis behind without austerity, official says in debate

Hungary is leaving recent economic difficulties behind without austerity measures, a state secretary of the Prime Minister's Office said at a discussion with opposition Socialist MEP Istvan Ujhelyi at the Tranzit conference in Tihany, western Hungary, on Saturday.

Csaba Domotor said that while the previous leftist government’s reaction to the 2008 crisis had been based on austerity measures, and led the country into the “dead-end street of taking out an IMF loan”, the incumbent government considers crisis management to be a question of “who will make the final decisions on the future,” besides economic policy measures.

Ujhelyi said the handling of the 2008 crisis had laid the groundwork for the Orban government’s “growth trajectory” from 2010, which he said was mostly funded by European Union money. He also slammed the government for high inflation, fuel prices and the weak forint, while he said the minimum wage and health-care funding were below EU average.

Domotor said real wages had grown by 70 percent during the Fidesz government’s tenure over the past ten years. The government’s family support system and other benefits probably contributed to declining emigration numbers seen since 2015, he said.

He said while the government sees that Hungary has a vested interest in being a member of the EU, “this doesn’t mean that we can’t push Hungary’s interests through.” He also called on the opposition to refrain from “campaigning for the suspension of EU funding for Hungary for internal political purposes.”

Meanwhile, in another debate, Istvan Hollik, Fidesz’s communications director said that the Hungarian political left had “no political programme to present at all” and was driven by the simple goal to oust Fidesz and “put [former Socialist Prime Minister] Ferenc Gyurcsany who had robbed the country twice into power again”.

Hollik said that Gyurcsany has included Peter Marky-Zay, his opponent in Saturday’s debate who is mayor of Hodmezovasarhely, in the leftist election cooperation in the hope that he could “win back undecided voters”.

He said that Hungary “has moved closer to the EU” as has been reflected by figures while the opposite had taken place during the eight-year government of the previous Socialist government. “Hungary’s economy has performed 2-3 percent better annually than the EU average,” Hollik said.

Marky-Zay said in response that “the Fidesz government’s talk is now about Hungary moving closer to the EU while it is working with full steam to move Hungary farther away from the community, and is talking almost openly about a Huxit”.

“Hungary is today the second poorest country of the EU which was not the case ten years ago in terms of ranking by GDP”, he said. Marky-Zay said data showed that the number of Hungarians living beyond poverty line had increased, state debt had gone up, an increasing number of Hungarians had left the country and the country has a high rate of graft.

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