Hungary’s ruling party holds congress in election campaign mode
Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, which currently holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, held a day-long party congress in Budapest on Saturday, and swung into full-scale election campaign mode.
Parliamentary elections will be held in April or May of 2014, but the party seems to have already pulled out all the stops, reiterating charges of wrongdoing during the Socialist administration in office until 2010 and pointing toward the European Union, and the international banks and businesses as the country’s main adversaries.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won re-election as the party’s chair in a near unanimous vote (1,240 votes out of a possible 1,241) and the deputy chairs did nearly as well, each getting over 1,000 votes.
While Fidesz appears to be heading for the elections with a commanding lead, since 45 to 50 percent of committed voters support policies that have raised eyebrows in the European Union and the international media. However, with over 40 percent of eligible voters refusing to commit to any party yet, an upset is possible, and it appears that Fidesz is taking no chances.
While Fidesz backtracked on several points in a constitutional amendment that caused a firestorm internationally, such as restricting political advertizing to the public media during election campaigns and allowing courts to try cases in which defendants are transported to districts far from their homes, other measures were left intact despite protests.
The new constitution still excludes single parents, unmarried parents and same-sex couples from its definition of family. It states that university students must work within Hungary after graduation if they receive government stipends and that homeless people may be arrested for sleeping in public places.
It has limited the number of churches and religious denominations it recognizes, and has eliminated consideration of precedents going back further than January 2012 in Constitutional Court cases.
Orbán has also taken aim against the European Union, stirring up populist sentiments, declaring that “Hungary is not and will not be a servant of Europe,” nor will it let the banks or corporations dictate the rules. “We Hungarians are our own bosses and we do not want others telling us how to take care of things at home,” he said.
After having mandated cuts in utility fees early this year, the prime minister is now promising further cuts to rally voters.