(MTI) – The opposition Socialists have called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to attend a televised debate with party leader and PM candidate for the opposition Unity alliance, Attila Mesterhazy.
Orban is hiding and is not willing to participate in a debate, because the government had done nothing over the past four years to help young people, Tibor Szanyi, a senior Socialist, told a press conference on Sunday.
The Fidesz government had “brutally slashed” support for higher education and introduced tuition fees under a different name, Szanyi said. He added that one issue Orban needed to discuss was the Paks nuclear plant upgrade and how he had turned Hungary into “Russia’s slave”. Szanyi called the Paks contract a “humiliating and dangerous” usury deal and said an exorbitant interest would be collected even if the power plant was never completed, while Hungary would be charged huge penalties if it was late with a payment. He said that on April 6 voters would have to decide whether they want to join the East or the West, whether to “live under the threat of the Russian bear or free, as a member of the community of European countries”.
Roland Gur, a Socialist party candidate for European Parliament, said that the government had hiked minimum wage by a rate lower than inflation and reduced job-seeking allowances to only three months.
In contrast, the Socialists have a real programme to help young people: they would restore a mandatory schooling age of 18, extend jobless benefits and make it possible for all university students to start their studies free of tuition. A government led by Mesterhazy would guarantee that all young people under the age of 25 would find a job or professional training position within four months, Gur said.
The ruling Fidesz party said that it was only during the reign of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP) that Hungarians lived “under the threat of the Russian bear”. The Gyurcsany coalition had already shown how it would govern the country, it had caused its demise and nearly made Hungary share the fate of Greece, the party said in a statement.