Number of high-level government officials twice as high as under Socialists

January 9, 2017

Despite promises by Fidesz to reduce bureaucracy and cut down on public employees, there are currently twice as many undersecretaries and deputy undersecretaries in government as there were before 2010 during the last 8 years of the Socialist regime, reports Magyar Nemzet.

According to data from the government’s website, 106 deputy undersecretaries and 55 undersecretaries are working under 10 ministers. A new deputy undersecretary was appointed Friday to the Ministry of Human Resources, led by minister Zoltán Balog, making it the ministry with the most undersecretaries: 20 deputy undersecretaries and 10 undersecretaries. The Office of the Prime Minister, led by minister János Lázár, who has often spoken about bureaucracy reduction, comes in a close second place with 19 deputy undersecretaries and 8 undersecretaries. The Ministry of National Economy has 17 deputy undersecretaries and 7 undersecretaries.

According to Hungary’s Fundamental Law, only the prime minister and the ministers count officially as members of the government. By that rubric, the Socialist government under Gordon Bajnai was larger in 2010: with 15 ministers, 20 undersecretaries and 49 special secretaries (a position introduced in 2006 which basically fulfilled the function that deputy undersecretaries perform today), the Bajnai government had 85 members. But if deputy undersecretaries are counted, the third Orbán government currently has more than double that number, with 173 members.

When Fidesz-KDNP returned to power in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán promised that the alliance’s system of “national cooperation” would “not be characterized by either ambition or governmental free-for-all, it doesn’t fit.” But the government has consistently grown every year since then, and despite radical plans to consolidate state functions into a narrower structure, even Lázár has admitted that “there are ever more of us, and it’s not certain it’s a good thing.”

In addition to the bonanza of undersecretaries, the number of commissioners has greatly increased since 2010, with a current total of 65. More members of government also means more salaries to be paid by taxpayers. Exact figures are unknown, but estimates compiled in the media suggest that some HUF 2.4 billion (USD 8.2 million) is spent annually on salaries for high-level government officials.