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Hungary to hold general elections and referendum on April 3
Hungarian President Janos Ader called the general elections and also set the date for the homophobic “Child protection” referendum for April 3 in an official statement published on Tuesday.
"The general parliamentary elections will be held on April 3", Ader declared in the statement, recalling that the first free general parliamentary elections in Hungary were held 32 years ago.
Elections will be held in one single turn, and Hungarians will have the chance to give Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban a fourth consecutive term in office.
During the last elections, Orban' s Fidesz Party won 49 percent of the vote, which translated into 133 of the 199 seats of the national assembly.
This meant that the Fidesz retained its qualified 2/3 majority of the Parliament, enabling the party to alter the Constitution, which it did so many times, cementing its power, according to critics.
Viktor Orban, a hardliner in immigration policies, is likely to face his most difficult adversary according to the majority of polls.
The six Hungarian opposition parties, conservatives, socialists, greens, liberals etc.. have decided to unite before the general elections, in order to maximize their chances at winning over the Prime Minister, who has been continuously in power since 2010.
Opposition parties held primary elections last October, to find Orban’s challenger.
Peter Marki-Zay, a 49 year-old conservative mayor of Hódmezővásárhely won these primaries, putting him as the challenger of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
During the primaries, opposition voters also elected the 106 common candidates, who will go into the elections to challenge each representative of Orban’s Fidesz party in an electoral duel.
A political party must obtain 5 percent of the vote to enter the parliament.
On April 3, citizens will also be able to cast their vote in the referendum initiated by the government, but several Hungarian NGOs are urging an invalid vote on April 3.
Parliament voted on a homophobic “child protection” referendum on November 30, with the following four questions on the ballot:
- Do you support the organization of sexual orientation sessions for minor children in public education without parental consent?
- Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children?
- Do you support the unrestricted presentation of sexual media content to minors that affects their development?
- Do you support the display of gender-reassignment media content to minor children?
According to Orban, the referendum is needed because “Brussels is demanding changes to Hungary’s Act on public education and its child protection rules.
“The referendum is particularly vile for two reasons. On the one hand, the wording of the questions suggests that young people are harmed by hearing about sexual and gender minorities, on the other hand, it violates the dignity of LGBTQI people,” according to the NGOs.
“The wording is intentionally manipulative: it tries to use the natural concern for protection of the parents to fuel their own political purposes. For the second time, the Fidesz-KDNP government is building its election campaign on incitement to hatred against a vulnerable group,” the NGOs added.
The signatories - including Amnesty International Hungary, Budapest Pride, and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee - said that the easiest way to vote invalid was for voters to check both the “Yes” and the “No” box on all referendum questions.
Hungary's COVID-19 death toll exceeds 40,000
Hungary’s COVID-19 death toll reached another benchmark, exceeding 40,000 people on Tuesday, but severe cases needing hospital care or ventilators were slightly down despite the fifth wave of the pandemic, according to the government's coronavirus information website.
On Wednesday, the country registered 7,883 new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour span, raising the national total to 1,308,877, according to official data.
In the past 24 hours, 67 people died from the disease, taking the cumulative death toll to 40,083 in the country, while 1,149,849 have recovered. Currently, 2,758 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 257 on ventilators, the government's website said.
Hungary’s COVID-19 death toll exceeded 20,000 in the end of March 2021, and 30,000 in the beginning of July 2021.
Speaking about the expected burden of the fifth wave on the Hungarian healthcare system, Miklos Kásler, Minister of Human Resources, said that the number of daily infections could reach 13,000 and the number of hospitalizations could be up to 8-9,000.
“At the same time, the number of deaths at the peak could be around 200 per day,” Kásler added in his interview given to commercial radio Infóradió.
Kásler was also “absolutely certain” of a need for a fourth vaccine, and said that the government was ready for that.
Based on the immunological tests, it seems there might be a longer gap between the third and the fourth jab, than between the second and the third, but more tests were needed to determine the date of the fourth vaccination, the minister said.
The 40,000 deaths compared to the population of Hungary (9.8 million people) is dramatic when reading the report of the central statistical office KSH, according to which the population decline of 2021 was of 60,000: a decrease not seen in Hungary since the end of World War Two (1945).
“Although the full data for the whole year are not yet available, I would estimate that in 2021, about 93,000 people were born and 153,000 died in Hungary. The former is a relatively good number, the latter an amazingly bad value,” Balázs Kapitány, an expert in demography said, following the release of the latest figures.
“The loss for 2021 is 60,000 people, which could be offset (somewhat) by the excess immigration. In peacetime, since the introduction of official statistics, there has never been a worst year in demography in Hungary. I hope that the year 2022 will show a more positive picture in this respect,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
The extent to which the excess mortality is attributable to COVID-19 cannot be deduced solely from this data, but fluctuations in the number of deaths clearly follow the patterns and dynamics of the epidemic at first glance, news portal Telex said after the publication of the data.
As of Wednesday, 6,297,101 people had received at least the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 6,039,940 had both jabs, while 3,299,569 received their third, booster shot, the website noted.
Hungary’s interest is to restore peace and order in Kazakhstan
Hungary's national security interest is the stability of Central Asia, that is why the government supports efforts to restore peace and order in Kazakhstan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday on his Facebook page.
Szijjarto posted his message following a video conference of the Organization of Turkic States, where Hungary is a member with a status of observer.
"Our interests lie in a peaceful and stable Central Asia. Attempts at destabilization and coups run completely counter to our security interests, since they end up making more room for acts of terror and the spread of radical and extremist ideologies, which tends to lead to the emergence of large migration waves from various regions,” he stressed.
A joint statement was adopted at the morning virtual council meeting, in which they condemned the violence, the acts of vandalism, and expressed their solidarity with the Kazakh people and expressed their condolences for the deaths, according to Szijjarto.
“We know quite well from experience what tends to happen in these instances on the international political scene: We usually see so-called human rights groups and certain countries wanting to level criticism and approve declarations condemning the situation,” Szijjarto said about the riots.
Instead of condemning others, the international community should focus its energies on preventing the repetition of such “worrisome and violent" events in the future.
Those responsible for any form of violence must not be absolved and terrorist groups and organizations spreading extremist ideology must not be given room to operate, he also said.
The minister concluded by informing that all Hungarian citizens requesting assistance from Kazakhstan had been repatriated.
According to Szijjarto, the Kazakh State has been “attacked” and the perpetrators wanted to “overthrow the constitutional order”.
These words clearly testify that he practically reiterated the Kazakh and Russian presidents' interpretation of what had happened, saying that the actions were coordinated from a single center.
The words of Szijjarto meant that the Hungarian government became an uncritical supporter of an unacceptable, repressive dictatorship, according to opposition Momentum politician Edvin Mihalik.
“It is as if the Foreign Minister were saying: In 1956 a treacherous attack was perpetrated on the People's Republic!”
Mihalik also reminded that in Kazakhstan the police were shooting live rounds on anti-government protesters.