Thousands took to the streets of Budapest on Sunday in protest against the government, demanding higher wages for teachers and a stop to surging inflation.
This was hours after Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed to safeguard economic stability and keep a cap on household energy bills, despite the European Union falling into an “economic crisis.”
However, protesters claimed the government had let teachers down by paying them inadequate salaries, and inflation – having surpassed 20% last month – was becoming intolerable.
Teachers and students have been protesting for an increase in wages, a solution to the worsening shortage of teachers as well as the right to strike, Reuters reports.
As Hungary marked the anniversary of the uprising against Soviet rule in 1956, Orban said on Sunday that 2023 would pose challenges due to the war in Ukraine. "A war in the east, and an economic crisis in the West," Orban told supporters in Zalaegerszeg, going on to refer to the "financial crisis and economic downturn in the EU".
"In 1956 we learnt that unity is needed in difficult times... we will preserve economic stability, everyone will have a job, we can defend the scheme of caps on energy bills, and families will not be left on their own,” he stated.
One of the key factors within Orban’s policies are the caps on gas and electricity bills, yet the costs of the scheme skyrocketed this year due to rising energy prices, impacting the state budget. From 1st August, the government scrapped the cap for higher-usage households.
The 2023 budget is set to be revised in December as the budget law – which was approved in July – predicts 4.1% growth in 2023, whilst inflation is forecast at 5.2%. In addition, economic growth is now forecast to slow to 1% next year.
Moreover, Hungary’s Forint fell to all-time lows earlier in the month, leading the central bank to hike interest rates.
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