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Will Gyurcsány take back the political left?

gyf 1   While the two largest parties of the extreme right (Fidesz and Jobbik) are fighting tooth and nail for votes supporting xenophobia and the death penalty, on the other side a race has started to determine the leading leftist party. On May Day Friday, Ferenc Gyurcsány announced a genuine leftist program, through which he wants to take over the initiative from the moribund MSZP.

According to the Chairman of Democratic Coalition (DK), the 25 years that have passed since the regime change have left two-thirds of the population unsatisfied as the coveted prosperity still hasn't been realized. Gyurcsány said that it is necessary to do these people justice, and therefore he launched "The program for the forgotten 6 million people" which (for now?) consists of three points.

1.) Within the next 5 years, the statutory minimum wage must rise to the level of the minimal living wage.

2.) The employers must pay for the work done, and they are to be held accountable through all of their assets.

3.) The cost of water and electricity should be raised gradually, and within this, the first couple of cubic meters and kilowatts should be free.

Concerning the minimum wage, it is important to know, that currently one million people live below the poverty line in Hungary. This is the number of our fellow citizens who get up every morning to go to work for at least 8 hours, and still earn less money than it is necessary to live a decent life. We agree that this is scandalous and intolerable.

It is also on the positive side that Gyurcsány, unlike the increasingly present neo-communist minimum wage movements, doesn't want to give away free money to those happily living off unemployment benefits but stands on the side of those who actually work for a living.

He is quite aware that the only way Hungary can prosper is through the long-awaited moral and financial recognition of those whose work adds value to the community. And society should look at the working man as an example to be followed, and not as a pathetic loser.

How he will manage to increase the minimum wage by 40% without causing turmoil in the labor market and angering employers remains a question for now. However, it is already obvious that it won't be an easy task and can only be achieved gradually. In any case, it is reassuring that he did not promise to solve the question of the minimum wage within a period of two weeks.

As for gradually increasing utility prices, reported in the press as "free water" and "free electricity": as a pro market economy blog, we believe that social policies should not be exercised through water and electricity, and it is only fair if the cost of goods and services used are paid by everyone equally.

However, attention must always be paid to circumstances and the way that Orbán's government has run amok in the past 5 years, dangerously impoverishing the lowest layers of society, cannot be ignored. In the Hungary of 2015, hundreds of thousands are left to fend for themselves without water and electricity, which are considered to be basic needs in most countries.

Gyurcsány's program entails that the minimum consumption of the poor would be paid for by the wealthy and thus the proposal would not (or only minimally) interfere with the total income of the utility services, and would only restructure those.

The whole program is more of a gesture towards the poor. It sends the message that we are not so well off that we can give money away for cigarettes and booze, but everyone deserves a few cubic meters of water and a few kilowatts of electricity. Western Light (Nyugati Fény) can support this proposal in the spirit of the most elemental humanity.

In any case, this program is more just than the undifferentiated utility cost reduction that saves only a couple of forints for the needy, but lets the more affluent keep tens of thousands. Gyurcsány has long been an advocate of the principle of "where there is more of an opportunity, there is more of a responsibility". The question is whether people can believe of the politician who has fought his way up from poverty to wealth, that he can still remember his roots and genuinely wants to create a more just country.

In any case, it is now clear that Gyurcsány, at the head of a now stronger party (Tárki:11%, Medián:10%, Nézőpont:12%) is ready to become the leader of the political left. Whether he is able to succeed is an equation with many unknown variables. His success depends not only on his competition, but also on his own self.

The impotent leftist competition and the two-faced Fidesz, which only talks about supporting the "hard-working common man" but in reality supports the rich, are both playing into Gyurcsány's hands. The only question that remains is whether "Feri" learned enough from his past mistakes to get it right this time?




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