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Post-Christmas ruminations on poverty

December 30th, 2013

Left-wing columnists accuse the government of ignoring growing poverty. Their pro-government counterpart believes that the opposition is trying to politically exploit the poor, having done nothing to improve their lot while they were in government.

While the government claims that Hungary is performing better, thousands queue for a hot meal on Christmas day, Népszabadság comments in a front page editorial on the annual Christmas soup kitchen organized by a Hungarian Krishna association. The left-wing daily suggests that the Orbán government prefers to hand out billions of Forints to its entrepreneur allies, than to help the poor. Earlier this week, Közgép, a construction company widely believed to be the backbone of a Fidesz-friendly business empire was announced as the winner of five different government tenders. As Index.hu reports, in 2013, the company won contracts worth a total of 27 billion Forints in several tenders.

In the same daily, Dóra Ónody-Molnár describes as tasteless the decision to hold a charitable dinner party in the Buda Hilton hotel. The government has humiliated children living in poverty, she writes. Before Christmas, a Calvinist humanitarian organization helping poor families invited a group of children to a dinner in a five-star hotel in Budapest. The patron of the event, Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Resources, a Calvinist pastor himself was also invited. The liberal commentator deplores the idea of confronting children living in deep poverty with forms of luxury they can never experience in their everyday lives, and the use of such an event to create the impression that Mr Balog is concerned about those in need.

In Magyar Hírlap, László Kiss contends that the left-wing parties seem to be concerned about poverty only when they are in opposition. Socialists now promise that if they win the 2014 Parliamentary election they will eliminate child poverty, what a pity they could not put that into practice while they were in government for eight years up to 2010, Kiss notes.