László Botka, the opposition Socialist Party’s prime minister candidate for the 2018 elections, says his most important goal is to create equality, improve justice
and promote Hungary’s rise. Hungarians want a change and want leaders who do not praise the pre-WW2 Horthy era and do not try to stealthily restore the Kadar era either, Botka told an event organised by the party’s Free Press Foundation.
Hungarians reject the self-destructive politics of the pre-2010 governments but also reject the arrogance and especially the conspicuous consumption of the power elite since 2010, he told the gathering.
Botka called it Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s biggest betrayal that “he went against his own promises and was not working towards Hungarians’ interests.” The difference in income between the poorest and richest groups in society had increased by eight-fold since 2010 and as many as half a million Hungarians had left the country seeking better living standards, he added.
Once in government, Botka said the first move of the new left will be to set the health sector in order by stopping employees leaving and by shortening waiting lists. He also promised to reform education by placing emphasis on marketable skills and shifting the focus from lexical knowledge to creativity.
Further, he promised to fight corruption and to eliminate the gap between people on the right and the left, between conservatives and liberals.
Botka said the Socialists would never again “leave their voters in the lurch” and he promised not to strike an alliance with the radical nationalist Jobbik party. “The parties of the democratic opposition should regain voters’ confidence almost from scratch. We need all democratic voters but not all politicians. Those who are a burden and have lost their chances and public confidence should withdraw,” he said.
Those who wished to offer a credible programme to voters in the 2018 elections should draw the conclusions from the blunders made by the leftist-liberal governments of the 2002-2010 period. “A politician who lied to the voters’ face is a burden for the left and should consider retreating.” This was a clear reference to former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of the second-strongest party on the left, the Democratic Coalition.
Botka said Hungary will only see a period of consolidation and peace if its “two most divisive politicians”, the “adored or hated icons of the left and the right are removed from the political sanctuary”.
Addressing Hungarian-Russian relations, Botka said, referring to Orbán, that “the Young Democrat who deserved credit by resolutely calling up the Russians to leave the country at martyred prime minister Imre Nagy’s reburial in 1989 has now smuggled them back at a price”.
The ruling Fidesz said Botka has missed a great opportunity to name the people responsible for the scandal surrounding the metro 4 construction project. The same Socialists talk about justice today who “pocketed hundred billion forints metro money and scattered national assets, made hundreds of thousand jobless, and took away money from families, health-care and education”, a statement said.
The Socialists would cancel the home support system, raise income tax and instead of creating new jobs, they would encourage people living on benefits, it added.
Radical nationalist Jobbik said it has become clear once again that the Socialists want to defeat Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány and not Orbán. It has been proven once again that there is only one alternative to Orbán and his system: Jobbik which stands on the side of the people, the party said.
Gyurcsány said in reaction to Botka on his Facebook page that it is up to voters to decide who should have a place in Hungary’s democratic public life. “As for me, as a voter, I would give a place to Botka. What’s more, I wish him much success,” he said in an entry forwarded to state news agency MTI by his party.