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The poverty blame-game

December 8th, 2014

A left-wing columnist quotes a hoax message which is spreading across the internet to accuse the government of ignoring growing poverty. His pro-government counterpart, on the other hand, believes that the Left is trying to give the false impression that poverty appeared under only the current government.

In Népszava Péter Somfai not only accuses the government of turning a blind eye to poverty, but claims that it actually wants to impoverish Hungarians. “We witness day by day how every policy of the Hungarian government aims at sidelining or trampling on the poor, and plunging them even deeper into poverty ,” he comments on a message circulated on the internet. The unidentified author of the Facebook post claimed that his request to open a soup kitchen was rejected by the authorities. The author claims that the official in charge told him that “he will not get the licence to open a soup kitchen because the government does not want people to see masses of poor in the street”. Several days before the publication of Somfai’s article, Index.hu revealed that the post was a groundless hoax. Index wrote that according to the current rules in effect since February, soup kitchens can be opened in five major squares in Budapest. The Budapest Council also said that no requests were turned down. The original post which received more than 20,000 likes was deleted but still keeps circulating on the internet. Somfai nonetheless uses it to claim that the government wants to get the poor out of sight by any means rather than “saving from starving and freezing to death” those who are in desperate need.

Whatever the government does in order to help the poor, the Left accuses it of ignoring poverty, Zsuzsanna Körmendy writes in Magyar Nemzet. The conservative commentator finds it particularly tasteless that the left-wing media, in their commentaries on deprivation statistics in Hungary behave ‘as if child poverty had only appeared since 2010.’ Körmendy wonders why those left-wing intellectuals who publicly accuse the government of increasing child poverty now, remained silent about the same issue under previous socialist-liberal governments. Körmendy suspects that the government’s plan to extend the free meal program in kindergartens and primary schools to two-thirds of children will be framed on the Left as if the government wanted to exclude one-third of all children from the free food programme.