“Fidesz is turning Hungary into an authoritarian state”

March 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 10.56.37 PM

The following press release was issued this morning by the organizers of today’s demonstration in Budapest calling for a “New Hungarian Republic!”

(We have taken the liberty of correcting a few minor errors.-ed.)

The Hungarian Republic has been stolen!

Under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government, Hungary has left the path of democratic societies.  Fidesz is turning Hungary into an authoritarian state, with a disrespect of citizens’ rights, the rule of law, private property, and freedom of religion.  Under Orbán’s false ideology of an illiberal democracy, there is massive cronyism and corruption enriching a select few.  Literally, the word republic was removed from the constitution.

Our goal is to dismantle the Orbán regime and build a new democratic republic, based on solidarity, equality, the rule of law and transparency.  We have cast our demands into 19 referendum questions that pin down the Orbán regime’s misdeeds.  These centre around issues such as:

  • public officials’ wealth
  • public investment and tendering
  • Pension Fund system
  • Right to education
  • Institutionalised corruption
  • a transparent state

and other important issues.

Opposition to the Orbán government has begun to have some success.  The Internet Tax demonstrations forced Orbán to withdraw his outlandish plans to charge 50 euro cents per gigabyte of traffic.  Protests against the nationalization of the private pension funds also forced the government to step back.

To build our new democratic republic, we will use democratic means to dismantle Mr. Orbán’s attempted authoritarian state.  To this end, we submitted 19 referendum questions to the National Election Office on Friday, March 13th, 2015.  The questions are explained and outlined below:

  • Transparency of the wealth of Hungary’s politicians.  Recent scandals around the extravagant and ostentatious lifestyles of the Fidesz leadership have highlighted the need to make politicians’ income and assets transparent.
    • The referendum question asks: Should public officials who by law have to make an annual asset declaration also have to make their income tax returns public?
    • The referendum question asks: Should members of public officials’ households also have to make their assets public?
    • The referendum question asks: Should the land registry office be required to verify that all property purchases by public officials are publicly reported before the transaction is approved?
  • Fight corruption with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office:  The Hungarian prosecutor’s office has proven time after time that it is not willing to investigate the blatant crimes committed by the Orbán government.
    •  The referendum question asks: should the government of Hungary support the creation of a European Prosecutor’s office?
  • Transparent public investments: The Orbán government siphons off billions of forints in public investments by removing them from the normal tendering process and making them state secrets.
    • The referendum question asks: should all investments made with taxpayer or EU funds be public?
  • End the mandatory chamber membership fee: Hundreds of thousands of businesses are forced to pay an annual membership fee to the Chambers of commerce and industries.  Besides being close to the government the chambers do not actually add any value.
    • The referendum question asks: should membership fees of the commercial chambers be mandatory?
  •  Transparent pension system: The goverment promised that everyone will receive a private pension account to see their individual contributions.  We demand the government fulfills this promise and includes the funds lifted from the private pension fund in this account.  These referendum questions ask:
    •  Should the individual pension accounts indicate the contributions prior to December 31, 2012
    •  Should the individual pension accounts state the contributions made to private pension funds between January 1st 1998 and November 1st 2010 and indicate the contributions made by citizens forced to return to the state system?
  • Reverse bypass road and highway tolls:  Roads and highways built to move traffic away from inner cities were free for a reason.  They helped improve the lives of people in areas affected by traffic and were good for the environment.  The greedy Orbán government recently introduced a new toll.
    •  The referendum question asks: Should the roads and highways that were free to use before January 1st 2015 be made free again?
  • Renewable Energy: While the government is spending billions on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant it bars the growth of renewable green energy with a set of ridiculous laws.
    • The referendum question asks: Do you agree that parliament should pass legislation to implement and enforce the EU green energy directive 2009/28/EK?
  • End to the State monopoly of tobacco trade:  The nationalization of the tobacco trade has achieved two things: a massive explosion of the black market and the bankruptcy of about 2000 shops, affecting the livelihood of about 10,000 people.
    • The referendum question asks: Should the retail of tobacco products be an exclusive state activity?
  • The Prime Minister’s office is not worth 200 billion forints!  Viktor Orbán would like to move his office to the Buda castle.  This move will end up costing more than 200 billion Ft (EUR 700 million) (sic).  By comparison, the government spends 160 billion forints annually to support the construction of social housing.  The prime minister of Hungary is not a ruler; Viktor Orbán is not a king – there is no need for him to live that dream, especially not at the taxpayers’ expense.
    • The referendum question asks: Should the Prime Minister be allowed to relocate to the Buda Castle District, which is a UNESCO world heritage site?

[Editor’s note: According to the government, the renovation of a building that is to house the new office of the Prime Minister is to cost HUF 7.9bn (EUR 25.8mn)]

  • End to the exploitation of public workers!  Hungarians on social welfare programs are forced into the public works programs, where they are exploited and humiliated.  We demand that citizens participating in the public works programs are protected by the same rights as all other employees.
    • The referendum question asks:  Do you agree that public workers should receive the same rights as laid out in the employment law?
  • Right to education! Children have the right to go to school.  We demand that the government restores the mandatory schooling up to the age of 18.  Lowering of the mandatory schooling age to 16 has fostered the institutional discrimination of the impoverished Roma minority and has further curbed social mobility.
    • The referendum question asks:  Should the mandatory schooling last up to the age of 18?
  • Hospital waiting lists should not be death panels!  Nothing regulates the waiting lists patients have to endure.  Today money and connections determines anyone’s medical treatments.  This is despite the fact that the medical college has published guidelines on the clinical pathways for different medical conditions.  We demand these guidelines be enforced.
    • The referendum question asks: Do you agree that parliament should elevate the guidelines on the treatment of illnesses by the medical college into law?
  • Culture is worth as much as football!  Viktor Orbán likes football so much that billions of forints are diverted uncapped to football clubs and their new stadiums.  Subsidies for cultural institutions are capped by a score of their ticket sales.  We demand that the same rules apply for football subsidies.
    •  The referendum question asks: Do you agree that tax credits received by any of the select sports should be the same as cultural institutions?
  •  Make the details of the Paks deal public!  The Hungarian government plans to spend several thousand billion forints on the expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power plant without sharing any information with the citizens who will pay for it.  We have the right to know what our money is spent on.
    • The referendum question asks:  Do you agree that all of the information on the financial agreement of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant expansion has to be released publicly?
  • Declassify the communist secret service files!  Hungarian citizens have the right to know who collaborated with the communist secret service and how.  Hungary is the only ex-communist country in the region where these files are not accessible.  The secret files are a source of mistrust, and are regularly used to blackmail political actors.
    •  The referendum question asks: Do you agree that anyone should have access and be allowed to publish files created between December 21st, 1944, and February 14th, 1990 by members and collaborators of the Interior Ministry’s III unit marked “secret” and “strictly secret”, including their identities, reports, notes and documents?

The above referendum questions have been submitted to the National Election office by Balazs Gyulas, Tamas Lattman and Zoltan Vajda.

About the Event

Speakers:

– Lajos Parti Nagy, writer

– Péter Závada, musician

-Zoltán Kész, independent MP whose election ended the Fidesz supermajority

-Tamás Lattmann, professor of law

-Balázs Gulzás, 100K against the Internet Tax Facebook group

-Zoltan Vajda, 60K against the theft of the private pension funds

-János Kulka, actor

-Andrea Fullajtár, actress

-Emilia Nagy, Network for free education

-Ágnes Pletser, Women’s rights activist

-István Káposynák, Solidarity movement

The event will be broadcasted live full or in part by ATV via http://www.atv.hu/elo-adas