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Mandatory drug test planned for children

December 10th, 2014

Commentators across the political spectrum find a Fidesz proposal to introduce mandatory drug tests for children highly controversial and potentially counterproductive.

On Saturday, Budapest 8th district Mayor Máté Kocsis announced his plan to propose a yearly mandatory drug test for children between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as for politicians and journalists. The childrens’ test results would be communicated to parents only without legal consequences. On Monday, Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán said that with some amendments, Fidesz supports the idea and will draft a bill to be submitted to Parliament in January. He said that he was not sure whether it would be wise or legal to include journalists and politicians.

On the Heti Válasz webpage András Zsuppán thinks such proposals are the best way for Fidesz to lose the next elections. The moderate conservative columnist quotes Gábor Zacher, a well-known toxicologist, who told reporters that mandatory drug testing for kids is virtually impossible. Its introduction may woo elderly conservative voters, but will alienate the youth from Fidesz, as well as their parents who will punish the governing party at the 2018 elections, Zsuppán predicts.

Just relax and roll a joint,” Cink’s László Szily comments. The liberal pundit suspects that the proposal is a mere stunt. Fidesz wants to provoke opposition protest and plans to discredit anti-government protesters by labelling them drug-users, Szily contends.

In Népszava, Jenő Veres speculates that the controversial proposal is aimed at diverting public attention from the corruption accusations levelled against government officials.

On Index, Szabolcs Dull thinks that mandatory testing will suggest to kids that the state does not trust them and regards them as potential criminals. He finds the proposed extension of mandatory testing to politicians and the press even less reasonable.

Krisztina Horeczky in Népszabadság argues that standard Hungarian drug tests cannot detect designer drugs and alongside alcohol abuse are a far bigger threat to kids than traditional drugs the presence of which can be revealed through tests. The left-wing columnist finds the idea of mandatory drug tests a mindless and demagogic proposal.

Political scientist Gábor Török maintains that critics are mistaken in labelling the proposal senseless. The proposed new law, he thinks, is intended to address core Fidesz voters. By vilifying the opposition and labelling critics as defenders of drug users and dealers, the government “wants to stop its decline”, Török remarks. If Fidesz succeeds in keeping the issue on the agenda and the opposition creates the impression that it defends abusers, Fidesz’ strategy may after all prove successful, Török concludes.

On Tuesday afternoon Máté Kocsis announced that he could, after all, only conceive the tests with parental consent, which would solve the constitutional problem but would mean the tests would not be mandatory.

Explaining the position of his parliamentary group, floor leader Antal Rogán told the press on Wednesday that parental consent will only be required for children, which usually means under 14 years of age.

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