Peter Marki-Zay (Illustration) - Photo: Facebook

Marki-Zay presents opposition election programme

Hungary has a chance to "find its way back" to civic values and Europe at the April 3 election; the country's interest is to have peace, security and progress, Peter Marki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, said late on Wednesday.

At the event streamed online, Marki-Zay called for “peace in Europe and within Hungary’s borders. Security and reliability, secure livelihood for Hungary and Hungarians. Civic prosperity for all Hungarians, regardless of the colour of their skin, their origin, political views and sexual orientation.”

“In order to lift Hungary, we have to abandon Putin-esque methods and policies that betrayed Hungary’s allies, intentionally frayed the unity of Europe and helped the emporial ambitions of the war criminal Vladimir Putin,” he said.

Hungary’s security lies with strengthened border protection, the European Union and NATO, he said.

If the opposition comes to power, they will maintain the border fence and set up an independent border guard, while stop “police officers’ emigration” with robust wage hikes, he said.

Marki-Zay also called for a “new, value-based, Western-oriented” foreign policy. The opposition will review international agreements contrary to Hungarian interests, and “expel Fidesz migrants under outstanding international arrest warrants”.

The new government would leave family allowances in place while raising wages and pensions, he said.

He added that they would introduce the euro within five years.

“We must abandon the misguided and unfair policy which pushed Hungarians into poverty because it was based on a weak forint,” he said.

Should the opposition receive the mandate to govern, they would exempt the minimum wage from PIT without raising PIT on other citizens, and double the family allowances and home care subsidy within four years, he said.

The thirteenth month pension will be maintained but pensions will be calculated according to a more favourable indexing, he said. Besides women, men will also be allowed to retire after 40 years of employment; the same threshold for policemen and other servicemen would be 30 years, he said.

Regarding the incumbent government’s utility fee cut scheme, Marki-Zay said “the real utility fee cut would be to curb corruption.”

He said the EU funds “currently withheld because of the Orban government’s corruption” would offer the swift way out of Hungary’s “almost hopeless economic situation [of] record deficit, record debt and record inflation”.

The “new Hungary’s” energy policy would prioritise energy security and curbing the country’s exposure to “Putin’s Russia”. They would re-open negotiations on the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, he said.

He pledged “substantial” wage hikes for health-care and social workers, and teachers.

Marki-Zay vowed to “reclaim the universities subverted into Fidesz foundations for the nation” and to strenghten Hungarian universities rather than the “Chinese Communist migrant university”. He pledged to build the originally planned student quarter on the site the incumbent government had designated for Fudan.

Once in government, the opposition would “free sports, culture and the press, restore the rule of law and stand up for minorities,” he said.

Independent lawmaker Akos Hadhazy, representing the Momentum Movement, said the opposition would set up an anti-corruption Prosecutor’s office and join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. An anti-corruption agency would be set up to hold corrupt leaders to account, he said.

Imre Komjathi of the Socialists said the government would launch a “wage hike programme” for the public sector and strengthen unions. They would scrap the “slave law”, which gives employers larger freedom with the employees’ overtime payments, he said.

Timea Szabo of Parbeszed pledged to set up an independent health-care ministry and plough 1,200 billion forints (EUR 3.1bn) into the sector.

The Democratic Coalition’s Gergely Arato said public education would be mandatory until 18, and would “ensure equal opportunities for all students”.

Ruling Fidesz said in response that the left wing posed a threat to Hungary’s security, economy and families’ livelihoods.

In a statement on Thursday, Fidesz said the “real programme” recently presented by the Hungarian left involved sending Hungarian soldiers and weapons to Ukraine, thereby plunging the country into war, and making Hungarians pay for the price of war.

“Through their irresponsible demands for energy sanctions they pose a threat to gas and electricity supplies for Hungarian families and businesses, and they would bring in brutal utility fee increase for Hungarians,” the statement said. “They want tax increases, they would scrap the minimum wage, take away family benefits and the 13th month pension, they would introduce fees in health care, destroy rural Hungary, they would let in migrants and allow LGBTQ propaganda to roam free among children,” Fidesz added.

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