The respective leaders of the parties of the opposition – Photo: Facebook

Wage hike for teachers promised

Opposition turns to top court over changes to residency regulations

Seven opposition parties on Thursday turned to the Constitutional Court, saying that changes to Hungarian regulations over the declaration of residence "legalised voter fraud".

In a joint statement, the Democratic Coalition (DK), Jobbik, LMP, the Everyone’s Hungary Movement (Mindenki Magyarorszaga Mozgalom), the Momentum Movement, the Socialists and Parbeszed parties said that ahead of the 2018 elections, “masses of Hungarian citizens from across the borders had declared derelict buildings as their residence in Hungary to be able to vote.” Recently accepted legislation “legalises voter fraud and opens the gateways to manipulating the results of the election,” the statement said.

After an initiative of the opposition, probes by the police and the Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, found that such acts had been committed during the previous elections and were declared to be in violation of the law, the statement said.

So far, declaring a place of residence without living at the address was a criminal act under Hungarian law. Parliament decriminalised such declarations in an amendment in November, if the person making the declaration owned the property in question or made the declaration in agreement with its owner. Henceforth, a place of residence is regarded as a contact address only, and living there will no longer be a precondition for casting a vote.

Wage hike for teachers promised

Opposition parties on Thursday promised to implement a one-time large-scale wage hike and wage supplements for teachers should the opposition come to power after the general election this spring.

Agnes Kunhalmi of the Socialist Party told an online press conference that Hungary had failed to modernise its education sector over the past 10 to 12 years. She said the country was struggling with a shortage of teachers, adding that many of Hungary’s teachers were old and many were leaving the profession.

She said that once teachers’ wages were hiked, the new government would have to gradually keep raising wages in the sector in order to make the profession attractive again. She also underlined the importance of providing wage supplements to those teaching, for example, disadvantaged and special needs students.

Koloman Brenner of Jobbik said the new government would give students a chance to pass at least an intermediate language exam before graduating from secondary school. Students enrolled in vocational training will also be given the opportunity to learn foreign languages, he added.

He also promised that the first degree would be tuition-free for university and college students, adding that this policy would also apply conditionally to graduate and PhD programmes.

Brenner said the new government would review the foundation model under which most universities now operate and “restore the government’s democratic control over state-financed higher education”.

Endre Toth, a board member of the Momentum Movement, promised the establishment of modern schools that favour the development of students’ skills, creativity and team work. “Hungary is in need of open schools where everyone has equal opportunities and whose operations local communities have a say in,” he said.

The new government, Toth said, would reduce the burdens on both teachers and students, place greater emphasis on critical thinking, work to improve financial literacy and expand digital skills. As part of the latter goal, he added, the government would distribute tablets to all students. If it comes to power, the opposition will raise the school-leaving age to 18 again, he said.


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