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Welfare in focus on Labour Day

May 4th, 2015

Commentators on both Left and Right make fun of promises of increases in welfare payments by left-wing and far-right parties.

Left-wing parties as well as Jobbik celebrated Labour Day with traditional rallies, while Fidesz had no major event on May 1st.

In Magyar Hírlap, Gyula T. Máté likens the Labour Day promises made by left-wing parties to a fool’s joke that is intended to make people laugh. The conservative columnist finds it peculiar that all left-wing parties should pledge easy and immediate increases in welfare and an end to poverty if they get the chance to govern the country. Máté contends that former PM Gyurcsány sent particularly incoherent messages. The leader of the liberal Democratic Coalition said that 1989 was a success story. He also noted that under the pre-1989 Socialist regime, welfare increased much faster than it has since the political changes. Máté recalls that Mr. Gyurcsány, who has opposed the nationalization of the energy sector, on Labour Day called for the provision for all Hungarians of small, free  amounts of energy and water necessary to cover basic needs. Máté believes that MSZP leader Tóbiás’ messages were not less problematic. Mr. Tóbiás envisions a welfare oriented but at the same time pro-market social democratic party, which takes the national interest seriously but at the same time is pro-EU.

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai also thinks that Labour Day promises are hard to take seriously. The left-wing commentator points out that Jobbik leader Gábor Vona said that the European Union cannot overcome its crisis but at the same time assured his audience that he would not immediately take Hungary out of the EU, since this would entail economic default for Hungary. Hargitai contends that Mr. Vona’s effort to defend the death penalty on Biblical grounds was equally contentious. As for the left-wing parties, Hargitai suggests that the MSZP’s promise of significant wage rises and former PM Gyurcsány’s commitment to free water and energy supplies should not be taken seriously.

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