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Weeklies on Hungary and the EU

July 8th, 2019

A middle-of-the-road publication weighs the government’s chances of withstanding criticism from the EU after the election of the new European Commission. Opposition weeklies lambast the government, accusing it of widespread corruption, while a pro-government pundit thinks the government enjoys the confidence of the citizenry.

In Hetek, István Pócza hopes that German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who is set to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, will open ‘a better era’ in the history of the European Union. Hungary has supported her candidacy, but the real test of Hungary’s influence in Brussels still lies ahead. Outgoing Justice Minister László Trócsányi, Hungary’s candidate for a post on the Commission, needs to be accepted by the European Parliament and the analyst is certain that he will have to endure serious political criticism in the process. Later on, Hungary will have to bargain for the highest possible share of the EU budget, and during those negotiations it will be impossible to avoid ideological skirmishes. For instance, Hungary will have to prevent attempts to deprive those countries of EU funds where democracy is allegedly in jeopardy. A third issue with an uncertain outcome is Fidesz’s membership in the European People’s Party. There is no doubt in Pócza’s mind that Manfred Weber, the EPP floor leader in the European Parliament, will try to take revenge on Hungary’s governing party, which was at the forefront of the countries which foiled his candidacy for President of the European Commission.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Sándor Révész finds it depressing that according to international surveys, Hungarians excessively entrust their future to the government. While most fear that they will not have enough money to cover their medical expenses, they mistrust the idea of competitive medical insurance and want the government to take care of the health service. He accuses the government of encouraging that way of thinking. Those in power, he argues, want to maximise their own control over the country and the lives of its citizens, and therefore intend to suppress autonomous and responsible activities as well as the idea of responsibility for one’s own health. This is how Hungary is becoming a country of complaining and pessimistic citizens, he warns. The liberal pundit is highly critical of the opposition as well, and accuses its leaders of trying to reach positions of power by building policies on the complaints of the people, rather than shaking them out of their passive state of mind. Instead of telling them to take their destiny into their own hands, the opposition asks the electorate to trust them to sort out their fate. That will inevitably ‘result in a sad ending’, Révész concludes.

In an even angrier comment on Magyar Hang, editor Zsombor György accuses the government of distributing public money recklessly. His starting point is the monthly salary of the President of the Media Authority, which has been raised to 4 million forints. Such high salaries, amounting to 13 times the average monthly pay, are common among the CEOs of large state-owned enterprises, he adds. He juxtaposes such salaries with the shortage of equipment and low salaries in hospitals. In a separate argument he accuses a friend of the Prime Minister of forcibly taking over companies from their owners. He also alleges that the relatives of the President of the National Bank are active in insider trading. This country, he fumes, is kept in intellectual and material slavery by a pocket dictator.

In Demokrata, editor András Bencsik rejoices at the news that the new bond issued by the government has been bought by large strata of the population. Citizens have spent over a thousand billion forints buying these bonds over the first few weeks of their existence and Bencsik reads that result as proof that Hungary’s citizens trust the government. The bond offers a 25% yield over 5 years at a time when the interest rate on bank deposits is close to 0. Those who invest in the bond, Bencsik explains, would hesitate to do so if they didn’t have confidence in the solidity of the national currency.





Sent from my iPhone
On 2019. Jul 6., at 11:38, Janos Betlen <jbetlen@gmail.com> wrote:

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