Jobbik leader Gábor Vona launched a signature drive for a European wage union at the party’s Aug. 20 event in Budapest. Parliamentary group leader of the ruling Fidesz party, Lajos Kósa, marking Hungary’s national holiday on Sunday, said St. Stephen’s legacy obliges Hungarians to follow the path marked out over a thousand years of its statehood.
At an event in Debrecen in southern Hungary, Kósa called Hungary “strong and independent; a Christian nation and a community of Hungarians who are always receptive but at the same time careful to preserve their culture, character, heritage and freedom.”
Lászlo Botka, the opposition Socialist party‘s prime ministerial candidate, said: “We must return to Europe”.
“We can be a happy and coherent nation of the Carpathian Basin only if we take greater responsibility within the borders and beyond,” Botka said in Szeged, the southern Hungarian city of which he is mayor. He said being a patriot means “protecting our historical and cultural heritage for future generations and once again uniting our divided society.”
As we wrote yesterday, at the demonstration in support of a free press and a change in government, Gergely Karácsony, Dialogue’s co-leader, told the crowd that after the 2018 general election, the state founded by St. Stephen, which had been destroyed several times over the past 100 years, would have to be reestablished.
According to Jobbik press office, on August 20, Gábor Vona officially launched the wage union initiative: as part of Jobbik’s Family Day held in Budapest City Park, the president of the largest opposition party asserted it was the EU’s vital interest to reduce the wage gap splitting our continent, also pointing out that Eastern Central European governments had a great responsibility not to miss this historic opportunity. By signing Jobbik’s wage union initiative, Mr Vona officially launched the project at the party’s family event on August 20. Before that, the prime minister candidate of the strongest opposition party introduced the campaign running in eight EU member states to achieve the adoption of “equal wages for equal work” into the EU Treaties as a fundamental right for citizens.
Addressing the critics of the wage union initiative, the politician pointed out that some of them might not have taken the trouble to actually read the document so “they have no idea what it is about”. He added that the wage union concept did not involve raising wages overnight. “This is a European reform project! Because something is wrong in the European Union,” explained Mr Vona, referring to the unfulfilled promise made to the newly-joined countries, i.e., that their wages would be closer to those of the western states. Talking about the EU being enlarged only to gain new markets and cheap labour in the east, he called it a system error.
However, the wage union concept has already proven to be feasible, as shown by the historical example of East Germany: the former GDR is now the 14th most developed region in the European Union. “If East Germany could make it, so should the entire European Union,” Mr Vona asserted, adding it was only a question of true intentions. Further explaining the East German example, he said the integration of the GDR did not make Germany weaker. On the contrary, Germans grew even stronger. As he put it: “The European Union will either adopt the wage union, or there will be no European Union at all.”
Stressing that the Citizens’ Initiative was the highest level of popular action in the European Union, and if there were an even higher one, they would have taken it, he asked the question: “But why do I, Jobbik, the opposition have to do this?” According to his answer, the reason is that the Hungarian governments of the past 27 years based our economy on cheap labour. “Let’s toy with the idea what would have happened if Viktor Orbán had come up with the concept of the European wage union! Would Jobbik back it? Yes!” This was his way to emphasize that reducing the wage gap was a non-partisan initiative, asking: “How could anyone have the cheek not to support the idea of Hungarian people earning decent wages?!”
Talking about the non-partisan nature of the proposition, he said he was not fighting to get European wages for Jobbik’s supporters only. “The banner of the wage union was raised by Jobbik, but we welcome everyone who wishes to hold this banner high,” the prime minister candidate asserted.
In Mr Vona’s view, we have our own homework to do in terms of creating a new Europe. This homework is to create a Hungary that is able to use such an economic opportunity, since the only thing Fidesz has achieved in the past seven years is that the minimum wage slowly seems to reach the level of subsistence. He expressed his opinion that we could be the Switzerland of Central Europe if the fortune of 62 thousand billion HUF currently leaking through corrupt offshore channels were allocated to wages. He emphasized that giving everything to the PM’s strawman Lőrinc Mészáros was not a comprehensive economic policy. Instead, Hungarian small and medium enterprises should be supported to be able to enter the international market.
Mr Vona also stressed that the number of signatures for the wage union initiative was a message to Brussels. “It’s like a battering ram: the more of us push it, the easier it is to break through the gates of Brussels,” the president drew an analogy to show the historic opportunity. In response to a question, he said pensioners would also be better off with the wage union. Explaining why it is in the interest of pensioners to give their statements of support to the wage union cause, he said higher wages would generate higher pensions as well. He also pointed out that work in itself was not enough: “When you have decent wages for your work, that’s when you have it all.”
In terms of the wage union efforts, Jobbik relies on citizens who give their statements of support as well as those who actively contribute to the campaign by spreading the word: “We do need all Hungarian people in this matter because it is the last chance for the European Union. The fate of the EU will be decided in the next couple of years,” he asserted, adding that we cannot allow decisions to be made above our heads. “We must raise this battering ram together so that the European Union could truly belong to the people!” Mr Vona stated, stressing that their goal was to enable everyone to prosper in their own homelands. We may further contribute to the success of the initiative by continuing it in government, the politician explained the stakes of the 2018 elections. Jobbik’s president warned that “the Socialists and Fidesz are ready to join their forces to prevent a better future for Hungary”. So next year’s elections will have a long-term impact on Hungary: we will decide if our country should be governed based on obsessions or common sense, he concluded.
Featured image: MTI