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Dorottya Szikra on Family Policy in Hungary

In Hungary, there is a complete separation between helping those in need and family policy, Our Research Fellow Dorottya Szikra said in an interview with Telex.

As a by-product, the basic redistribution of benefits targeting those in needs has withered away, although these form the basis of social policy everywhere, she continued, adding that if we think of family policy as a cake, we see that the permanent element, the traditional cake base has not been touched, while whipped cream and marzipan figures have been added on top, and now these cake decorating elements are costing the Hungarian state more than the basic building blocks that anyone can access without meeting various criteria.

As she argued, this is why the family policy of Fidesz, the Hungarian governing party, is very special in international comparison, because we do not see anywhere else that extra measures (e.g. supporting with loans) are more important than the basics.

A state's social policy can be both 'merit' (performance) based and based on needs, and we have seen the former very consistently in this country for 13 years, she said, suggesting that the insistence on the slogan of a work-based society pervades everything in this area. The government is advocating this model even against popular opinion, as people would obviously welcome an increase in the family allowance, for example, but there is no serious question of it being implemented, she argued.

She also talked about the similarities between the social policies of state socialism and today, gender inequalities, the illiberal welfare state, the differences and similarities between the Turkish and Hungarian models, among many other topics.

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Listen to the interview as a podcast (in Hungarian) here.

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