Govʼt launches ‘National Consultation’ on families, blasts EU

History

Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

The government has revealed its latest "National Consultation" questionnaire, this time about family policy. Despite the topic at hand, however, the document also takes the opportunity to voice oft-repeated criticism of "Brussels bureaucrats" and their policies related to mass migration.

Katalin Novák presenting the new questionnaire (photo by Gergely Botár/kormany.hu)

The latest National Consultation regarding the promotion and protection of families with children starts this week, with questionnaires to be sent by post to members of the public in the next few days, Katalin Novák, minister of state for family and youth affairs at the Ministry of Human Capacities, announced at a press conference on Monday in Budapest, according to a press release on official government website kormany.hu.

The questionnaire features ten carefully worded questions, to which respondents may reply with a simple Yes or No. Above each of the 10 questions there is an "information box," making clear the governmentʼs position on each issue addressed. According to copies of the questionnaire circulated in pro-government media, no space is given to express individual opinions that may differ from the governmentʼs position as embodied in the questions.

"Do you agree that the decline in the population must be remedied not through immigration, but via stronger support for families?" - reads the first question in the consultation. Strongly backing the Yes response to this question, the information box above accuses "Brussels bureaucrats" of wishing to resolve the problem of declining populations through immigration, a "permanent settlement mechanism" and "European immigration agency."

Other questions relate to the introduction of the concept of full-time motherhood as an occupation for women raising at least four children; the linking of new family support programs to employment; greater provisions for young people starting families; the provision of support for family members looking after sick children at home; and protection of the "mental, spiritual and physical development" of children, among other issues.

The information box preceding the consultationʼs last question blasts the cutting of family support by the socialist-liberal coalition which came to power in 2002, with the tenth question inviting respondents to agree or disagree with the idea of ensuring "two-thirds protection" for policies aimed at supporting families with children, meaning that in future, such legislation could only be repealed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

According to Novák, asking people their opinions via such consultations is "a tested and well-established practice" that "allows everyone to state their opinions" - albeit only as far as agreeing or disagreeing with statements of government policy in the context of the simple Yes or No format.

Novák added that Hungary is leading the way in this regard, noting that the European Union had also started a similar consultation. However, as a report by news site 24.hu noted in February, Hungary was the only country in the EU where the government did not support the distribution of the so-called "Macron Consultation" about the EU earlier this year.

Members of the public can submit their completed questionnaires by December 21. The government will also make it possible to fill in the questionnaire online.

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