The Socialist Party is calling for a government-sponsored, month-long free travel programme for over-eighteen-year-old Hungarian citizens, party leader Bertalan Tóth told a press conference on Monday.
The programme’s inspiration is the European Union’s DiscoverEU initiative, which offers free month-long Interrail cards for 15,000 young EU citizens, including 287 Hungarians.
Tóth told a press conference at Budapest’s Keleti railway station that the Socialists would propose to parliament that Hungarian youth receive such a possibility for the Hungarian railways.
The Socialists will consult with youth organisations on the details, he said.
Interrail is an international ticket system, which allows limitless railway travel for 30 days in 30 European countries for young adults, among other discounts. MEP István Újhelyi told the press conference that “it would cost the Hungarian government 9 billion forints [EUR 27.2m] to join the programme and so offer free travel to young Hungarians.”
Tóth said the Socialists have started preparing for the 2019 EP election campaign and appointed MEP István Újhelyi as campaign head. “The party will switch to full campaign mode in September,” he said.
The Socialists are addressing issues that directly impact Hungarian voters and that embody Hungary’s cohesion with the EU, Tóth said.
The party is committed to the EU, but acknowledges that the bloc has flaws, which need to be addressed, he said.
Regarding the State Audit Office’s decision to curb the party’s government funding in connection with irregularities found during its last audit in late 2017, Toth said it was “outrageous” that shortly before the 2018 election only the opposition parties had been audited. “This is clearly a harassment of the opposition,” he said. The fine was imposed in connection with the party’s lease contracts with local municipalities, and amounted to ten million forints, he said.
Újhelyi said the Socialists would continue to make proposals strengthening Hungary’s integration into rather than isolation from the EU. The “detailed scenario” for the campaign, including the list of candidates, is to be prepared in the coming weeks, he said.