Hungarian PM delivers state of the nation address ahead of election

Budapest, February 13 (IANS): Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivered a state of the nation address there on the first day of the official campaign launch for the April 3 general election.

The Hungarian leader began his hour-long address by recalling how the Hungarian government took a stand during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the situation in Europe was much worse, reports the Xinhua news agency.

“The country’s ability to act was not compromised for a moment and most people think Hungary defended themselves pretty well,” he said.

“This was not the case in Europe: people’s trust had evaporated from governments and protests had to be suppressed by force,” he added.

He warned of a “ruined economy” if the left, his political opponents, governs. “At the end of the day, taxes and debt are in the sky, and they have a crumbling economy: unemployment, austerity measures, mountains of debt, IMF: no money.”

Speaking of concrete measures, Orban announced that the fuel price cap would be extended for another three months.

He also said the country’s coronavirus vaccine factory in Debrecen would be operational by the end of the year.

Orban warned that Hungary’s tough stance on migration would only be “alive as long as Fidesz (Hungary’s centre-right political party) is in government”.

In Saturday’s speech, which was his 23rd such occasion, Orban said his administration’s current row with the European Union (EU) Commission was a dispute in how Western and Hungarian societies view the migration.

“The EU supports the invasion (migration wave),” Orban said, calling his fight with Brussels a “jihad” for the “rule of law”.

On the Balkan region, Orban said that these countries should be included in the EU and that a Balkan Marshall package was needed to help these southern European countries catch up.

Regarding the rising tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, he stressed that war should be avoided as it could bring millions of migrants from Ukraine to Hungary.

Hungary’s 7.8 million voters will have the opportunity to vote in two rounds in the single-round election that will determine 199 seats in parliament.

A ballot directly elects lawmakers in 106 individual constituencies, while the remaining seats are distributed according to votes cast for a party list.

Orban faces his closest contest since coming to power in 2010 after six opposition parties formed an electoral alliance, uniting behind Peter Marki-Zay, 49, a conservative mayor from rural Hungary.

Laura T. Thrasher