European Parliamentary Elections

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  • On the 26th of May, a European Parliamentary election will take place in Hungary, as well as in the other 27 member states.
  • We are voting for Hungarian party lists, however, the representatives of the given country will divide into European party groups.
  • The next chairman of the European Commission, according to polls, is going to be Manfred Weber.
  • But what will the Hungarian parties campaign with? The Hungarian euro, a secondary school Erasmus and a season ticket for every 18 year old is included in the program.

Introduction

The operation of the European Union is usually not the favourite topic of the final exam writers, they often explain it as an impenetrable, bureaucratic chaos. However this week (from the 23rd till the 26th) a number of European adults, 513 million citizens, can have a say in the operation of the organization, in the most democratic way: by voting (which is obligatory in 5 countries). Among the 3 main institutions of the Union, we can choose representatives in the European Parliament, in which there are 751 members altogether. Between the countries, the seats are distributed in the ratio of their population: thus Hungary has 21 representatives, while Germany for example has 96. The representatives of the Member States of the European Parliament, elected for a term of 5 years, form groups, the so-called factions, not as nations, but based on their political affiliation, and their world view, which means, that for example the British, the Spanish, and the Hungarian Socialist Party’s representatives will be members of the faction called Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

Institutional Geometry

European parties also nominate candidates prior to the elections since 2014, and the winning candidate – the candidate of the party which obtains a majority in the parliament – gets appointed in turn by the European Council with the approval of the EP. So everything works similarly, as in a national election, since that party can appoint the “prime minister”, which gets most of the votes – with the only difference that the European Commission (EC) can be considered as the “government” of the EU, and the president of the Commission as “prime minister”.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission.
Photo: Flickr

 In the EP-election we are voting indirectly for the president of the European Commission as well, who thereafter founds its 28 member commission, its “government”, in which each EU member state delegates one member (who do not represent their own countries), and distributes, who gets which task, “portfolio”, for example transport or commerce. The EC is one of the Union’s most important, day to day controller, inspector of the member states, decision making and executive body, so the previous comparison to a national government is not fully right, because the Commission initiates, prepares and at times is allowed to execute measures, together with: the EP and the European Council, which include the heads of state and governments of all the member states and the presidents of the commission and the council. These three bodies which complement and inspect each other uniquely are called institutional triangle, in which the Commission represents the interests of the whole European Union, the European Commission represents the national interests of the member states, since they are created by their leaders, and the Parliament represents the citizens, since they are directly elected by them – which is due right now.

When will Hungary introduce Euro? 

The parties judge the connection between the European Union and Hungary differently, thus it can be seen in case of one of the most frequently asked questions: when will the common currency of the EU introduced in Hungary? The ruling party – and according to a new research, the majority of the Hungarians – are not desperate to do it. Chancellor Mihály Varga announced that the issue has not been on agenda recently, because “ it’s not the intention of the government to join a zone whose rules are still changing”. 

However, MSZP-P and DK are reasoning for the early introduction of Euro, mentioning the exchange rate fluctuations as one of the greatest disadventage, and if a “two-speed” Union come into being consisting of central and periphery states, the currency may be the dividing line between the two groups, thus it is our goal to keep Hungary in the mainstream of Europe – said István Ujhelyi. 

István Ujhelyi delivering a speech.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Tibor Végh CC-BY-SA 3.0

First, Jobbik would suggest to raise the salaries to the same level all across the EU. For doing the same job, a Hungarian worker should get the same amount of money as his German mate, not only a fragment of it, as their program states. They think that the common currency should only be introduced after this. Momentum supports the idea of introducing the Euro as a common currency but they suggest that we should be careful.

Europe for the Youth? 

“To our question concerning the plans for the youth, István Ujhelyi brought up the introduction of the free interrail passes, of which he is the “number one mentor” in Brussels. European young adults would receive an interrail pass for their 18th birthday, with which they could travel for free for a month within Europe. Although at this point the program is only available with specific applications, nearly thirty thousand people could travel last year, hundreds of them being Hungarian. In the next period one of our important objectives will be to provide every 18-year-old young adult their free interrail pass on a universal basis.” Moreover, they promote the introduction of social-based European student and attendee scholarship prize, which “would support those students, who even though would like to attend or go to university or college in their own country, due to their financial situation they are not able to do this.”

Momentum also aim for the European train pass project, and also ”would triple the budget of the Erasmus project in order to give more people the opportunity to study in other European countries. We would also extend the Erasmus project to include high school students, so each pupil could spend two weeks in a different country from the Union”, stated Edvin Mihálik. Additionally, ”we would make European Studies obligatory in high schools across the union. The Members of the European Parliament would be obliged to finance the visit of a student group once a year from their visit budget. This way approximately 2500 Hungarian children could go to Brussels per cycle.”

The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, David Liff CC-BY-SA 3.0

DK also support the teaching of European Studies at schools, and would also want all young adults to speak at least one European language, which they would facilitate by the European support of bilingual education. As they said in their project: ”the variety of languages in the Union is a cultural virtue, but European cohesion can only be achieved through the people understanding each other.”

Jobbik would want to prevent the emigration of the youth, saying ”the estimated number of Hungarian citizens living and working abroad is between 600 000 and a million”.  They would solve this problem, too, by the universal wage, meaning equal European salaries. In addition, they also pay attention to the urgency of stopping climate change, similarly to some opposition parties.

Similarly, LMP view climate change as the number one risk for generations to come: ”We have to make sure the healthy natural environment stays in Europe for your generation as well”. Furthermore, ”we have to make it possible to succeed here, at home for those who wish to.”We cannot thoroughly report the EU level plans of Fidesz-KDNP regarding the youth, since they did not publish a detailed project, only seven points concerning the stopping of immigration, and did not react to us reaching out. Anyhow, the government introduced a project called Gyere haza, fiatal! (‘Young people, come home!’) in the spring of 2015, during which 105 people came home from England, but the initiative was stopped a year after that. Regarding education, the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) led by György Matolcsy and the National Competitiveness Council with chancellor Mihály Varga in the lead recently published a study each, in which they advise the thorough reformation of the educational system, including less focus on frontal education, making the material more reasonable, and popularising bilingual education. They also mentioned two projects that are to motivate language learning: with one 9th and 11th graders may spend two weeks in the country of the target language twice, while the applicants may spend the language student loan on financing language learning.

HAGYJ VISSZAJELZÉST

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