In Györ, Hungary, economic success benefits Viktor Orban

The Audi plant in Györ (Hungary), March 29, 2022.

The city is one of the most visible examples of the enrichment observed in Hungary under the twelve years of government of Viktor Orban. The city centre, carefully renovated with funds from the European Union, has regained its sparkling colors of the Austro-Hungarian era. What attract some tourists. But it is above all the gigantic Audi factory, which is running at full speed in the suburbs, which is the pride of the place: it employs nearly 12,000 people to produce the German brand’s Q3 and TT models, which are then sold throughout Europe. Europe.

Welcome to Györ, an industrial and prosperous city of 130,000 inhabitants, clinging to the Danube, in the very northwest of Hungary. Here, the party of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Fidesz, is in one of its main strongholds. And even if the opposition hopes to win one of the two constituencies of the town during the legislative elections organized on Sunday April 3, the game promises to be difficult, according to the workers met spontaneously in front of a shopping center. “My salary has just increased by 28,000 forints [76 euros], and Orban fights to keep energy prices low”gladly explains Zoltan Szalontai, a 51-year-old postman and “always a Fidesz voter”.

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“This year, my two children will not pay taxes”confirms Zsolt Henardi, a 50-year-old firefighter. “And we were given bonuses at the start of the year. » On the occasion of the election, the Hungarian government indeed multiplied the gifts: freezing of the price of gasoline at 480 forints (1.30 euros) per litre, a sharp rise in the minimum wage, tax exemption for those under 25 years, thirteenth month exceptional for retirees… Everything is good to restore purchasing power to the middle classes. On Monday March 28, Viktor Orban also came to town to praise his economic policy, summed up as follows: “The current minimum wage is at the level of the average wage of 2010.”

The city center of Györ (Hungary), March 29, 2022.

“Wage increases are relative”

The economy is his best campaign argument. “Since 2013, employment has continued to grow. In 2021, we signed for a record amount of 5.3 billion euros in foreign investment”, praises one of its electoral propaganda messages. The reality is more mixed. Based on a very restrictive social policy (Hungary only offers a maximum of three months of unemployment benefit) and a more flexible labor law, the country of 10 million souls has certainly increased its employment rate considerably. “But productivity has not followed”, corrects Gabor Oblath, economist at the Budapest Institute of Economics. Results : “Wage increases are relative”he believes. “Based on national accounts indicators, we are around 20% between 2010 and 2019.”

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