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The balance of two years in government

April 11th, 2016

A liberal analyst thinks Hungary has deviated from its strategic goal of catching up with the most advanced countries, while a pro-government pundit sees the past two years as a succession of positive developments in the economy.

In Élet és Irodalom, economist Éva Várhegyi claims that despite the transfer of substantial EU funds to Hungary every year, the distance in terms of per capita GDP between Hungary and Austria is exactly the same as 10 years ago. Meanwhile Hungary’s regional competitors, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia have grown faster and have left Hungary behind. She believes the government should use EU funds to create conditions for growth by the time those international transfers subside in a few years time. Instead, she believes, the government is using European subsidies to finance current GDP growth and keep public deficit extremely low in order to avert European sanctions. She fears that by the time Hungary will have to produce growth on its own, it will be lacking the well-trained manpower and state-of-the-art technology that would make it competitive.

In Magyar Idők, political scientist Bánk Levente Boros suggests that two years into its second consecutive term in government, Fidesz would again win elections today and gain over two thirds of the mandates in Parliament, just like as it did two years ago. He thinks that the government’s popularity is due first of all to its success in keeping the country’s finances in balance without asking international financial institutions for help, as well as to its flexibility in reacting to critical events. The migration crisis, for example, was completely misunderstood by West European political elites, he writes, who were led by their  ‘multiculturalist delusions’, while Hungary’s leaders immediately recognised that the uncontrolled flow of masses of migrants had to be stopped. As a result, Boros suggests that Prime Minister Victor Orbán is now an authoritative European politician, rather than the ‘despised leader of a small country’.

In their regular duel in Heti Válasz, political analysts Ágoston Sámuel Mráz and Gábor Török both find unrealistic opposition hopes that the leaders of the anti-government teachers movement may become successful politicians or might challenge the Prime Minister in the next elections. Nevertheless, Török believes that public education as well as the national health system may become dangerous topics for the government as Hungary approaches the next elections in 2018. He sees a ‘lethal danger’ for the Prime Minister in recent consistent opposition attacks on his immediate associates’ outstanding successes in winning public procurement tenders. Mráz describes queries about the Prime Minister’s own wealth as a new challenge which will require new answers. For the moment the Prime Minister has reacted angrily to such attacks in Parliament, and Mráz remarks that Mr Orbán is known as someone who despises luxury and therefore such accusations are not likely to harm him.

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