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PM Orbán’s state of the nation address

March 1st, 2016

Commenting on PM Orbán’s annual speech, conservative and pro-government columnists agree with the Prime Minister that the migration crisis is a grave threat to Europe and Hungary. Left-wing commentators, on the other hand, accuse Orbán of anti-EU policies and of ignoring the will of the Hungarians.

In his annual state of the nation address, Viktor Orbán said that uncontrolled migration threatens security and basic European values including freedom and tolerance. He accused the Brussels leadership as well as human rights activists of helping traffickers, and bringing millions of illegal migrants to the EU. Mr Orbán said Hungary was in crisis in 2010 when Fidesz won a landslide electoral victory, but the crisis was overcome by 2015 and a new era of development lies ahead. He also said that his government would continue cutting taxes in order to boost competitiveness. The Prime Minister said protesting teachers “are right” in their demands and acknowledged that wages in the health sector and education are still low, but cautioned against big salary hikes that would threaten Hungary’s balanced budget. He noted that a major new hospital will soon be built in Budapest.

The most important message of the PM’s speech is that Hungary needs to protect its sovereignty and culture, János Csontos comments in Magyar Idők. The pro-government columnist agrees with the PM that migrants cannot be integrated and thus their inclusion would threaten Europe’s way of life as well as Hungarian culture. Csontos welcomes What he calls the PM’s courage in calling for the halting of the flow of migrants, and for criticizing Brussels and Germany for trying to ‘force’ pro-migrant policies on all member states. After all, the EU is not the Soviet Union, and so it should not ignore the interests of any of its members, Csontos concludes.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető agrees with PM Orbán that uncontrolled mass migration is the biggest challenge for Hungary and Europe. The conservative pundit, however, thinks that the Prime Minister hasn’t yet realized the sheer extent of the problems at home, in health care and education. Szerető thinks that besides migration, underfinanced health care and education also threaten Hungary’s well-being.

Népszava’s editor-in-chief Péter Németh finds PM Orbán’s speech full of anti-EU messages. The left-wing columnist likens the address to a battle-cry in his war with Brussels and German Chancellor Merkel. Németh thinks that the PM’s belligerent rhetoric is intended to win voters’ support for the governing party, and they are unlikely to have big repercussions in the EU.

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai accuses PM Orbán of using the migration crisis ‘to keep the public busy’ and distract attention from corruption, and the crises in education and health care. The left-wing commentator contends that it is actually the Prime Minister who has prevented referenda on the Paks nuclear plant extension, the Olympic games bid or the Sundayclosing of shops, while he accuses Brussels of ignoring the will of the people. (The Paks referendum bid was rejected by the Supreme Court under the constitutional ban to hold referenda on issues regulated in international treaties. For the Olympic bid, see BudaPost, January 22.  For the Sunday shopping ban see BudaPost, February 25. Since then, the National Electoral Office has announced that the question submitted by the MSZP was also passed on for approval, along with the bid which ‘overtook’ it by three seconds under what were described  by all sides as ‘scandalous conditions’.)  

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