(MTI) – List leaders of six of the eight parties participating in the Hungarian EP elections on Sunday held a televised debate about the European Union and the stake of the vote.
The debate organised by commercial broadcaster ATV was attended by representatives of the Socialist Party, Jobbik, Politics Can Be Different (LMP), E-PM, Maria Seres’s Allies and the Homeland Not For Sale Party while the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance and the Democratic Coalition (DK) stayed away from the event.
Krisztina Morvai (Jobbik) said the public had become fed up with the politicians focussing on themselves and inter-party skirmishes rather than the ways of promoting Hungary’s rise. She expressed hope that the participants would agree on a national minimum which they can represent in Brussels together.
Ex-PM Gordon Bajnai (E-PM) said Hungary’s political life had been dominated by lies, narrow-mindedness and incitement for hatred. “Lies can only be covered up in debates,” he said, adding that this is why he had asked the radical nationalist Jobbik to participate. Bajnai said that the policy pursued by Jobbik is damaging national interests as it calls for Hungary to exit the European Union and get into the Russian sphere of influence. “As for Russian interests, Jobbik is acting hand in glove with Fidesz”, which has “escaped” from debates for several years, Bajnai said. He added that he respected but disagreed with DK’s arguments for staying away. The stake in the Sunday elections will be on which side of the Iron Curtain Hungary falls into: the West which champions European values, or the East “where [Prime Minister Viktor] Orban is pushing and [Jobbik leader Gabor] Vona is drawing the country,” he said. The other issue at stake is who will replace the Orban regime in 2018: will Jobbik offer an alternative or will there be a “decent, European option”.
Tibor Szanyi (Socialist) criticised Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the list-leader of Fidesz for their absence.
Tamas Meszerics (LMP) said the debate over the European Union’s future slipped sideways when parties started discussing whether they wanted more or less Europe. LMP is interested in how to create a better Europe, he said. LMP would like to see a European Union in which “the land belongs to those who cultivate it”, each employee is eligible for the same protection and all young people have access to a job in their own country.
Arpad Kasler (Homeland Not For Sale) said his party represents those who are fed up with politicians who do not practise what they preach. He added that the party had developed from a movement that sought to expose anomalies and violations of law connected with forex mortgage loans.
Tamas Toth (Maria Seres’s Allies) said they wish to protect life amidst poor public security. He said that Hungary should restore death penalty for murderers.
Assessing the past ten years, Szanyi said that Hungary had done well from joining the European Union and this had been the country’s best achievement it its thousand-year history. He said the Socialists had five expectations going into the European Parliament: a European minimum wage and pension, equal worker rights and conditions for men and women, guaranteeing full employment for youth below the age of 25, and affordable food prices with a view to eliminating hunger.
Morvai said that Hungary’s past ten years as an EU member have been a disaster.
Employees who work on assembly lines or in the departments of foreign-owned multinationals are deprived of their rights. Morvai said “farmland is being stolen,” Hungary’s agriculture had been destroyed and rural residents were impoverished while small firms are unable to keep pace with an inflow of goods from abroad.
Jobbik does not want to exit the EU because the party’s programme contains a Europe of nations model, she said, adding the party does not want a United States of Europe where Hungary’s affairs are directed from Brussels, Morvai said.
Bajnai noted that ten years ago three million Hungarians had voted for joining the EU but many of them had become disappointed. Fidesz and Jobbik tend to lie the blame on Brussels for the failure, he said. In reality, errors committed by the governments of the past decade and bad economic policies should be blamed, he said.
Photo: MTI – Laszlo Beliczay