Hungary for change
Sir, – Regarding the Hungarian ambassador’s letter (August 18th), I would like to briefly express an opinion.
Surely there is no need for me to introduce the readers of The Irish Times to the hybrid regime that Viktor Orbán has built and has been operating in my native country for over a decade now. Its prominent features are a heavily biased election system, with widespread gerrymandering; cronyism infiltrating every level of society and economy; and the intensive influencing of public discourse through an elaborate network of media outlets that are operated from a single centre. In the “well-respected” newspapers the ambassador refers to, articles are often published anonymously, and some of the language used in them is reminiscent of the style of the Hungarian prewar far-right.
As a vocal admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Mr Orbán has cut taxes for the rich and increased them for the poor. His government has introduced a single band of income tax at 15 per cent even for the highest earners, coupled with the lowest corporate tax rate and the highest VAT (a staggering 27 per cent) in the entire European Union. Meanwhile he aggressively undermined trade unions and workers’ rights under a completely rewritten labour law.
In Hungary, since Mr Orbán has been in power, healthcare and education outcome measures are much worse than those among EU peers, and social mobility levels are among the worst of all European countries.
I do not seek to speak on anyone’s behalf, as our new ambassador so generously attempted in his letter. But he certainly does not speak for this Hungarian when he praises Viktor Orbán’s rule. – Yours, etc,