Why this story matters:
The Christmas lights are on, the smell of roasted cinnamon fills the markets and people cannot get enough of “Silent Night”. Why ruin this picturesque scene with the image of hungry people queuing for food?
According to NGOs contacted by 'Nepszava', the ruling Fidesz party is already preparing for the next general election, scheduled for spring 2018, and it does not want potential voters to see long queues of hungry people waiting for a plate of hot soup. What would that say about our economy? Therefore the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) has made it barely possible for non-governmental organizations to help those in need.
The image of poverty is not compatible with the rhetoric of the government, which could be summed up as “Hungary is doing better” -- one of Fidesz’ most popular slogans. It can be seen on billboards across the country and is illustrated with an image of a happy family thanking Fidesz for their politics.
This would not be the first time that the government „solves a problem” by making it disappear from the streets. Homeless people are victims of the same approach. It is quite disturbing that politicians are willing to sacrifice everything for a successful PR campaign. The costs will be high, especially if we consider the fact that one in three Hungarians live below the poverty line.
Details from the story:
- According to Nepszava’s sources, EMMI will only issue permits to occupy public spaces to organizations that are affiliated with local governments, the state or the Church. Only they will be permitted to distribute food on the streets. NGOs would be denied this opportunity.
- Several NGOs claimed that they had already been denied the required permit, even though they said they would pay the fee. In the past, several district authorities in the capital refused to accept a fee for the permit as a gesture of goodwill.
- A representative of a humanitarian organization pointed out that homeless people were not the only ones queuing for free food. Many poor citizens, who have a roof over their heads, also get in line.
- When asked for a comment, EMMI did not deny the information obtained by 'Nepszava'.