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Fidesz Faces Elections with Weakened Economy Unprecedented in Its Tenure

For years, Hungary's economy grew, incomes rose, and public debt decreased until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in the fall of 2021, Fidesz's economic policies crumbled, and the party has since struggled to find a remedy. While they managed to curb skyrocketing inflation, the economy contracted last year, the budget deficit swelled, and the outlook is dim, with further austerity measures expected.

"Fidesz at least knows how to govern!" was a common refrain in public discussion for years, even as the party faced accusations of corruption, dismantling the rule of law, and eroding citizens' (including union and civil organization) rights. Fidesz, particularly under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, carefully cultivated this image. Orbán frequently claimed that under his governance, "everyone can take a step forward."

As proof of successful governance, the party highlighted its macroeconomic and budgetary performance indicators for years: economic growth, low inflation, rising incomes, falling taxes, increasing employment (and decreasing unemployment), low budget deficits, reducing public debt, significant public investments, and support for "families."

From the mid-2010s until the COVID-19 pandemic, Hungary’s economic governance could indeed be deemed successful: the economy grew steadily, unemployment was low, incomes were rising, and public debt was on a downward trajectory. However, there were no groundbreaking successes; Hungary's performance aligned with the regional economic upswing but did not lead the region. In fact, some indicators suggested a relative decline. This was during a period when both the national bank and the government were stimulating the economy—in layman's terms, "pressing the gas pedal" when the economy was already in motion (a practice known as procyclical, or economic cycle-reinforcing, economic policy).

Given that Hungary did not achieve notable results in a regional comparison, it is debatable to what extent the "successes" can be attributed to Fidesz.

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