Opposition parties call for change in government at May Day celebrations

Former prime minister and chairman of Democratic Coalition (DK) Ferenc Gyurcsány spoke at his party's event in Budapest City Park, where he promised that Fidesz would face a united democratic opposition in each of Hungary's electoral districts in 2018. He said Orbán was mistaken if he believed infighting among the opposition would prevent the parties from coming together against him in the elections.

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Gyurcsány pointed to last week's victory of joint opposition candidate Bence Bitskey in by-elections for Budapest's 14th District as proof that a united opposition could win in general elections, "not by a little, but a lot." Bitskey won just over 50 percent of the vote and was supported by left opposition parties the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), Democratic Coalition and Párbeszéd (Dialogue for Hungary).
Socialist mayor of Szeged László Botka also spoke in City Park at a separate May Day event, where he appealed to Hungary's workers in a left-populist speech which criticized Orbán and Fidesz for "betraying and ruining the country." Botka said Fidesz had ridden a wave of dissatisfaction among workers following the global economic crisis of 2008-2009 and had since deconstructed the country's democracy and pocketed the national wealth.
Earlier Botka said that his party, if elected to power, would grant tax benefits to companies where the executive-employee pay gap ratio is lower than 7:1. Speaking at a meeting of the Kiss Péter Free University organised by the Societas Left Wing Youth Movement, Botka warned against substituting a fundamentally new left wing policy and strategy with watered-down initiatives intended to cement the opposition.
Botka said they would put forward proposals including ones to reduce pay gaps and introducing strict salary caps in public sector leadership positions. Botka said his "door was still open" to all political and civil organisations striving for change, arguing that the democratic left stood the biggest chance of winning the general election next spring by fielding one joint candidate in each of the 106 individual constituencies.
Speaking at the Socialist Party's May 1 event on Monday, Botka said the Hungarian state should guarantee a subsistence minimum for everyone who has worked throughout their lives and who has legal employment. Neither wages, nor pensions should be allowed to move below this level, he said. He called for protecting workers and reducing income and wealth inequality, strengthening trade unions, taxing luxury and creating a broad middle class.
Referring to the anniversary of Hungary's accession to the European Union in 2004, Botka said Hungary had a dream, that of belonging to the European family of free and independent nations, but added that this dream had since been destroyed. He said the Socialist-Liberal governments in office before 2010 had failed to realise the threat of the global economic crisis and Hungary became one of the big losers, with workers feeling that there was nobody to represent their interests. It was this dissatisfaction that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán exploited, he said. "Since then, they have not just destroyed our dreams but depleted our future as well", he added.

Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona spoke at his party's gathering on the Danube island of Hajógyári-sziget, where he too called for wages for Hungarians to rise to a European standard. Without wage increases, Vona said, Hungary would "empty out."
Vona noted the importance of the change that his party has undergone. He said Jobbik's mission was not to keep one social group happy, but to make Hungary a strong, happy and free country. Vona said there were disputes in every party, but added that he thought Jobbik was the "most uniform and cohesive community" while "Fidesz is kept together by the booty".
Speaking about Jobbik's key objectives, Vona said one of these was to raise Hungarian wages to the level of European ones, adding that he believes Hungary would become deserted unless the pay gap with western Europe is closed. Vona also talked about the so-called "landlords' tax" that Jobbik pledged to introduce if they were elected to government, which would tax income increases above 300 million forints (EUR 972,000) per year. "Those who obtained assets unlawfully will have to say goodbye to them", he said, referring to a law package that his party also intends to introduce once they are in office.
He confirmed that Jobbik would set a limit of eight years on the time a person could serve as prime minister, adding that his party also proposes that the country's leaders should declare any funding they have received from abroad retroactively to 1989.
The Jobbik chairman responded to recent Fidesz accusations that his party is working for the interests of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros by saying, "The creation of the political campaign that Jobbik stands on the side of George Soros obviously has the political touch of Viktor Orbán. He would like to reduce the world to black and white where people can choose between two things, to stand on Viktor Orbán's side or on George Soros' side. Well, in this situation there are still a lot of Hungarians, among whom I belong, who don't want to stand on either Viktor Orbán's side or George Soros' side."
Source: MTI; budapestbeacon.com

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 May 2017 18:50