Viktor Orbán, Hungary's populist Prime Minister, has announced that any Hungarian women with four children will not have to pay income tax for life.
Orbán described the move as a means of securing Hungary’s future without relying on immigration. The far-right leader has been an outspoken critic of immigration and has taken particular umbrage at Muslims moving to the country.
It is one of a number of Central European countries, along with Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, which seen declining demographics as people live for other EU countries which can offer higher salaries.
— National Post (@nationalpost) February 10, 2019
Orbán used his state of the union address to continue his anti-immigrant rhetoric
As a further incentive, young couples will be able to access interest-free loans of up to 10 million forint (US$35,500). Families with three or more children can also access a subsidy of 2.5 million forints ($8,850) to purchase seven-seat vehicles.
Orbán said that the measures would solve the problem of falling birth rates. “For every missing child there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine,” he said.
“Hungarian people think differently. We do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children.
“Long live Hungary and long live the Hungarians!”
During his address, Orbán also called on voters to defend “Christian” people against immigration, which he claimed would lead to “virus of terrorism”.
He also used the occasion to present the European Parliament elections in May as a clear choice between the “new internationalism” of the Brussels establishment, which he asserted is controlled by “money men” like US billionaire George Soros and embattled sovereign nation-states defending Christianity.
Orbán’s Fidesz party returned to power last year on a staunchly anti-immigration platform. He has often drawn on rhetoric about Hungary being under siege by immigrants and has made repeated claims about Soros being at the head of a conspiracy theory to destroy Europe through liberal immigration policies.
Have more children — pay no income tax, Orban promises https://t.co/smXN12OEvk
— Financial Times (@FT) February 10, 2019
Protests against the Orbán government
As Orbán delivered the inflammatory speech, demonstrations against his rule were raging in the national capital, Budapest, with around 2,000 people involved in protests.
Protesters were outraged at a recent decision by the Hungarian state audit office to impose massive fines on several opposition parties, among other issues.
Some of the protesters moved their cars onto the Chain Bridge over the Danube River, blocking traffic for much of the day. Other protesters assembled outside Orbán’s office.
In December 2018, Orbán was also the target of mass protests, with more than 10,000 Hungarians taking to the streets to denounce what they see as a slide into authoritarian rule.
Header image credit: European Parliament