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Oct 31, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

National consultation on family policy to kick off soon

National consultation has become a powerful tool in recent years to invite citizen participation in major decision-making processes between election cycles. Since 2010, the government has solicited citizen input on a number of high-profile policy choices including the new Fundamental Law, economic issues, social security, conditions affecting pensioners, and immigration. This time it’s about family protection and it gets underway in just a few days.

In recent years, finding the proper response to Europe’s demographic decline has become one of the biggest sources of disagreement between European and Hungarian politics. While Brussels bureaucrats and the European liberal, pro-migration mainstream see immigration as the necessary and unavoidable solution, the Hungarian government stands committed to the idea of increasing birth rate through more effective family support measures. 

The upcoming national consultation seeks citizen input on the foundations of a powerful family support scheme, hoping to send a straightforward message that Europe cannot be revived without strengthening families.

Since 2010, when Prime Minister Orbán’s government took office, Hungary’s demographic policy has shown real results: by 2017, abortion numbers had dropped by more than a third, from 40,449 to 28,500, divorces saw a marked decline (from 23,873 in 2010 to 18,600 in 2017), and the number of marriages had risen by some 42 percent. 

On top of this, over the last seven years, 83,000 families have received home purchase subsidies, households have saved 1.9 billion HUF (6m EUR) on account of family tax preferences, and the number of places in crèches has increased by 50 percent. Hungary’s family policy was also recognized by the Institute for Family Studies for “winding back the clock” on demographic decline.

During a press conference on Sunday, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office Csaba Dömötör said that in the questionnaire, topics will “most certainly feature” possible measures to support young married couples, further incentives for bringing up more children and providing women raising kids with more flexible employment options. Dömötör reiterated that by 2019, government spending on family policy programs will exceed 2 trillion forints, doubling the amount that was allocated for similar purposes in 2010. 

Our approach is already bearing fruit, but the Orbán Government sees this as one of our highest priorities, and we’re planning more. Our next step is inviting the Hungarian electorate to have its say on the measures we should take to build a healthier, self-sustaining society. 

Stay tuned, the national consultation questions are expected any moment.