November 28, 2022

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Thousands protest against Orban government 'superinflation'

Thousands protest against Orban government ‘superinflation’

  • Protesters demand higher wages for teachers
  • Orban faces a major challenge with inflation rising to 20%
  • Pledges economic stability amid slowdown and rising energy prices
  • Orban was re-elected in the April elections

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Thousands of Hungarians, including teachers and students, marched across Budapest on Sunday to protest against the government, demanding higher teachers’ salaries and curbing rising inflation that is eroding incomes.

Walking across a bridge over the Danube, protesters raised banners such as “Urban lost” and “No teachers, no future,” just hours after nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban pledged to maintain economic stability and maintain a cap on household energy bills even as the European Union slips. to an economic crisis.

But in the latest series of anti-government protests, participants said his government has abandoned teachers by giving them meager salaries, while inflation, which topped 20% in September and is still rising, has become unbearable.

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“I am here … for the sake of my children, there must be a change,” said Jeonji Berezki, a mail carrier who joined the protests for the first time. “This hyperinflation … we can’t save at all anymore, we simply can’t make ends meet as prices go up.”

Teachers and students were protesting for a wage increase, a solution to a growing teacher shortage, and the right to strike. Read more Read more

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán attends the Mindszentyneum inauguration during celebrations of the 66th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, in Zalgerszeg, Hungary, October 23, 2022. REUTERS/Bernadette Szabo

As the country marked the anniversary of the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, Orban, who was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term in April, said earlier on Sunday that next year will present challenges with the war in neighboring Ukraine.

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“War in the east and economic crisis in the west,” Orban told supporters in Zalajerzeg, about 200 km west of Budapest, adding that there was a “financial crisis and economic downturn in the European Union.”

“In 1956, we learned that unity is needed in difficult times… We will maintain economic stability, everyone will have a job, we can defend the scheme of caps on energy bills, and families will not be left alone.”

The cap on gas and electricity bills was a key item in Urban’s policies, but the scheme’s costs have gone up this year due to higher energy prices, putting a strain on the state budget. The government had to abolish the cap on high-use households from August 1.

The 2023 budget is due to be revised in December, with the budget law, approved in July, forecasting 4.1% growth next year while inflation was expected to reach 5.2% – forecasts have since become outdated. Time due to high prices to double digits. Economic growth is now expected to slow to 1% next year.

The forint plunged to record lows earlier this month, forcing the central bank to raise interest rates in an emergency move.

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(Reporting by Christina Than; additional coverage by Kristina Venio) Editing by William MacLean

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