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Varga stays, Lázár goes, says Orbán

Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga will continue to oversee the economic portfolio in Hungaryʼs new government, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his weekly radio interview on Friday. Meanwhile, János Lázár, who has headed the Prime Ministerʼs Office for the past four years, is set to return to local politics.

“I continue to count on Mihály Varga to head the economy portfolio,” Orbán said, describing the minister as “extraordinarily talented” and “extraordinarily experienced.” He added that he had spoken to Varga on Thursday about drafting next yearʼs budget.

“I want the new Parliament to approve the 2019 budget before the summer recess, just as we have done in the past eight years, because it brings peace of mind, stability and predictability,” he said.

President of the Republic János Áder has called Hungaryʼs new Parliament to convene for the first time on May 8.  As reported last week, a vote on the controversial “Stop Soros” package of bills targeting NGOs in Hungary is likely to be first up on the agenda.

Orbán said talks on forming his new government are “progressing well,” according to the MTI report. The new government will have a different structure and new people, but “unchanged goals”, he added.   

Among the governmentʼs aims, the prime minister listed economic growth, keeping finances in order, continuing to strive to reach – and achieve – full employment, ensuring security, not accepting an immigration policy in Europe, supporting families, and preserving the value of pensions. 

Orbán described the keeping of big ministries in the hands of trusted individuals as a “principle worth standing by”.

“We donʼt need to change what has been tried and proven,” he added. Rather the governmentʼs “brain center” needs to be restructured, he said, referring to the Prime Ministerʼs Office, hitherto headed by János Lázár, where he said he would like to see “another type of leadership”.

Online news portal index.hu reported that Lázár will meet with  Orbán on Monday, but that he has already announced that his “work is done at the head of the Prime Ministerʼs Office” and that he no longer wishes to take a role in government, choosing instead to return to his constituency in Hódmezővásárhely.

Orbán also said he wanted to reach a long-term “comprehensive agreement” with Hungarian women supporting the decision to have children. Hungarian women determine whether the countryʼs demographics “stand or fall”, he added.

Hungaryʼs population has been in continuous decline for decades, falling from some 10.7 million in 1981 to 9.77 million in 2017, according to data from the Central Statistical Office.