Hungary: Facing the Abyss

Roma in Hungary. (Photo: OHCHR).

In Hungary a system has developed that is disrespectful to both the rule of law and constitutionalism. Hungary has turned against the democratic ideals of the world, civil liberties are restricted and today it is on a declining economic path. Political life is characterized by a murderous policy divergence, confrontation and a dangerous ideology-based polarization. The majority of the society is struggling with unjust and unequal relationships without even the hope offered by mutual solidarity. Hungary's international prestige, integrity and credibility are now at its lowest point.

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Hungary was already in a precarious economic situation. Although the Government had introduced major austerity measures between 2006 and 2008, these measures did not prevent a flood of international speculation which threatened to collapse the country’s economic and financial system.

Although there were re-nationalization measures could be hailed by some, the main concerns lies in the unorthodox economic policy: increasing social degradation and the neglect of Hungary’s most needy still continue. In truth, the only aim of these steps by the Fidesz administration is to change the previous Socialist elite and replace it with faithful Fidesz office clerks.

Since 2010, when the Fidesz administration came to power, the risk of impoverishment has increased and more brutal forms of poverty have emerged. The introduction of the flat tax system, the continuous reduction of social benefits, the stopping of the modernization of the educational system, the limited penal policy hitting primarily the poor have all brought an expected sad result. While members of the Government are making mockery of the elementary rules of logic, they talk nonsense about the state of the economy, a large strata of the society are losing their present and future possibilities. As of the second quarter of 2012 472,000 people were unemployed and 300,000 receive no benefits at all. It is terribly difficult to figure out what they are doing for a living, because the black economy options have also narrowed.

On 30 November 2011 the Hungarian Government adopted a 10-year National Social Inclusion Strategy (NSIC) accompanied by a short term action plan for the period 2012-2014.

Despite the praiseworthy goals of the adopted NSIC, very little has been accomplished up to now. According to the latest figures from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO) 42.2% of the Hungarian society is characterized by material deprivation and 23.1% by severe material deprivation.

It is also clear from the HCSO analysis that young adults face above average risk of poverty and that poverty risk decreases with age. Those aged 17 years are the most vulnerable. In 2010 only 20.3% of this group were poor, one year later already 23% were poor. The relative position of the elderly is better because pension benefits are regular and predictable. During the Socialist era, all the already retired people had a job. Many pensioners, however, do feel poverty as the average monthly net pension in 2012 is HUF 93,615 (about USD 425).

Source: Social Watch Report 2013, National Report by Social Watch Hungary