Janos Lazar, parliamentary leader of the governing Fidesz party, has apologised for what he called equivocal statements posted on the internet on Saturday.
In the recording posted on the internet, Lazar, who is also mayor of Hodmezovasarhely in SE Hungary, can be heard telling the city council in 2008 that “those people who don’t do anything with their life are worth just that”.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Lazar said, “I would like to apologise to Hungary for my ambiguous and misunderstood statement. I would like to apologise to all who feel hurt by that.”
Lazar said that his remark had not referred to the poor but to those who, instead of succeeding in their profession, embarked on a political career merely with the purpose of making a livelihood and for financial gains.
Lazar said the remarks posted on the internet were parts of a longer speech that were taken out of their original context.
The three opposition parties slammed the senior Fidesz official for his remarks.
Socialist board member Tibor Szanyi said Lazar’s remark truly reflected that the government’s policy was aimed against the poor. This policy was manifest in the introduction of a flat rate tax, cuts in social allowances and the Szell Kalman structural reform plan that endangers the livelihood of millions, he said.
Radical nationalist Jobbik spokesman David Mirkoczki said that Lazar had made “arrogant and elitist remarks denigrating the poor who make a living with honest work”.
Green Politics Can Be Different group leader Andras Schiffer said that Lazar’s words were a sincere demonstration of what Fidesz thinks of Hungarian society.
According to the policy pursued by Fidesz, the losers, those who have no chance of success, should lose and Hungarian public life should only be open to the successful and the wealthy, he said.
Fidesz deputy leader Lajos Kosa accused the Socialists of having resorted again to the “time-tested method” of manipulation and falsification.
“Those who are familiar with Lazar’s career in Hodmezovasarhely are well aware of the plenty of measures to help the poor and those in need in the town,” Kosa said.
He said Fidesz was mulling over taking legal measures in the affair.
On Sunday evening about 200 people gathered in front of the Budapest headquarters of the governing Fidesz party to protest Lazar’s remarks. The “civil disobedience flashmob” organised on Facebook ended peacefully.