BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Hungarian eurosceptic far-right Jobbik party launched a campaign against the government’s austerity policies with a rally in central Budapest on Saturday, saying they were dictates of the European Union and international lenders.
The Fidesz party’s centre-right government announced earlier this week belt-tightening measures aimed at cutting the budget deficit and avoiding European Union sanctions on Hungary, emerging Europe’s most indebted nation.
Jobbik, which holds 45 of the 386 parliament seats, said Fidesz and the previous Socialist government were servile to the EU and the International Monetary Fund, whose dictates, it said, hurt the country.
Hungary used a 20-billion-euro EU/IMF emergency loan in 2008 to avoid a default. While Fidesz initially rejected the EU/IMF help when it swept to power in 2010, market pressure forced Prime Minister Viktor Orban to ask for another loan last year.
Loan negotiations were held up for nearly six months after Hungary passed a series of laws that Brussels said damaged the independence of the country’s central bank.
The European Union gave the green light for the talks late last month, setting off a market rally, but a deal could be slow in coming, analysts said.
Jobbik has put increasing pressure on Fidesz not to give in to the demands of the international lenders. The party’s chairman Gabor Vona told a crowd of about 3,000 supporters that Hungary would be better off outside the EU.
“Our goal is to make Hungary independent, built on treasures like our land and our water, and not a member of the European Union, which lack values, which lies and is headed for demise,” Vona said, outside the Fidesz party’s headquarters.
“The European Union just comes here, siphons our money away, uses us for cheap labour, uses our markets to dump its garbage, then, what little money it doles out, it tells us what we may spend it on so we can build things we don’t need.”
Jobbik has gained in popularity recently while Fidesz, which scored a two-thirds majority in 2010, has lost nearly a million voters since then in the country of 10 million.
Vona said Jobbik would stage rallies in each major city in the coming weeks to demand fair wages, education, law and order.
Editing by Janet Lawrence