Portfolio blogger

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What happened in Hungary's elections?

Weel, the facts are simple: the governing FIDESZ-KDMP won another election. It is second time that a governing party wins an election. We do not know until Sunday whether they will have the two-third majority necessary to amend the Constitution and the so-called "cardinal laws" (electoral, police etc. - they extended the scope of questions to be regulated by two-third majority to make it diffcult for the next government to eliminate their legacy). But there is a fair chance. As one who trusted that in spite of the strongly biaised election system and limited publicity afforded to the opposition, the hungarian electorate is sufficiently unsatisfied and politically active to vote for the finally united opposition(I will call them opposition alliance) - of course except the extreme right and LMP, which is the fourth party in Parliament, a green antiglobalist, human rights grouping. So I cannot say that the result was inevitable. Others, who predicted the victory of FIDESZ, are now looking for scapegoats which is also not a coherent behaviour. There were reports from small irregularities which could influence the result (in one district the municipality closed into a room whose door had been then welded, all voting slips while waiting for the votes to arrive from abroad - here there is verys little difference between the two main candidates). The votes of Hungarians without a fixed residence in Hungary (who could voty by letter and the authenticity of whose votes are very difficult to verify) could mean an additional parliamentary seat - all these count for the two thirds. But the fact is that 39% of the citizens did not care to vote. Out of those who voted, about 45% voted for FIDESZ, 26 for the united opposition alliance, 21% for the ultra-right Jobbik. There are some strange things: anly two (or three) constituencies could be won by the opposition alliance in the countryside while half of the Budapest constituencies were von by them. What is the big, decisive difference between the capital and the big cities? In one district, the reigning mayor lost. There were two strong candidates against him (which seemed to be the recipe for failure of the opposition alliance): an independent one who had a high profile as he was the ex-employee of the tax office who publicised a huge cheating scandal covered up ba the tax office and a candidate for the socialist party, who was involved in some embezzling scandal before. And, surprise: the socialist candidate won. So what can I offer as explanation? There are two differences between Budapest and the countryside: Accessibility of information and closeness of people. No wonder tha those who have no access to the Internet or do not use it for information and can access only the public broadcasters and the main commercial tv stations (and eventually the two tv stations controlled by FIDESZ) have no real picture of what is going on in the country. Their deterioration of livng standard and comfort is not attributed to the bad policies of the government as it began under the previous government(s) and they are convinced that a new government will also demand sacrifices. But they beleive the overall positive picture suggerated by these stations. They cannot by independent newspapers or don't care. The voting can be surveyed more closely and, sorry to say, manipulation is easier. There were constituancies where the number of invalid votes was equal to the advantage of the government candidate. Placing posters was deliberately made difficult for the opposition by different means - and the rules changed continuously - while the governing party could make use of their NGO and of government propaganda which neither was subject to the limitations. No party advertisement was possible in the commercial media (as it should have been offered free and none undertook that - while ATV, which is close to the opposition alliance, was fined for transmitting political propaganda (by giving speeches from an election manifestation) without registering its intent to do so in advance. In some marginal constituencies the phantom parties could also tilt the balance, although they received few votes. Two of them bore names resemblling those used by the opposition alliance. The circumstances under which these small parties collected the signatures necessary to post candidates were more than doubtful - some of them received fewer votes than signatures. Some commentators revived the theories that the unification of the opoosition alliance resulted in loss of votes as the different constituents were alienating each-other's voters. There was no strong message - and no way to get the message home to the people, due to the communication difficulties outlined above. The result is now there - what to make of it, no one except the government knows.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Let's carry on - on the EU budget

Everybody likes to get money. But not too many like to give. The masters of the EU (who are, contrary to common belief, still the member states) gave the Union a moderate financial framework (this is how the long term budget is called in EUspeak) and 2014 budget. The negotiations were relatively successful for Hungary - it remains the second-third most supported country in terms of net balance per capita or by share of GDP. So now the Hungarians should be happy, shouldn't they? Well, the EU funds are well "earmarked", at least the area where they could be spent, is defined.You cannot spend European Social Fund money for economic development or infrastructure, only if there is a social benefit, and cohesion funds also have certain goals to be adhered to and also limitations. Rules of spending, documentation and accounting are not so simple. Partly this is due to the conditionality, adherence to which has to be checked. There is, however space for simplification. Increasing the flexibility in using the funds both concerning eligibility criteria and administrative requirements in beneficial but this should be done in a way that the possibility of fraud should be avoided. On the other hand, in spite of the short-term temptations, the real interest of the country is to prevent that EU funds should be used to distort competition as on the long term this means loss to Hungarian competitiveness to richer countries. Hungary is interested in simplification and also in decoupling the EU budget from conjunctural changes and spirit fluctuations between member states, thus also in giving the EU genuine own sources, for example from a future financial transaction tax or energy tax. This has nothing to do with the extraordinary taxes introduced in Hungary and probably would require their abolition which would actually help the Hungarian economy. Work is in progress and finally sme member state control and also mechanisms to equalise temporary fluctuations can be expected. The condition of agreement of the European Parliament to a decreased budget was more flexibility in reassigning funds and also a review to see if increases are necessary. Hungary should carefully follow this review and support an increase in the budget - improvement of economic conditions can be expected and thus more could be made available - benefiting the recipient countries, Hungary among them. Inevitably there will be a question, what the additional funds should be used for. Part of the funds was made available already to the youth employment programme - if more Hungarian regions could benefit from increasing its amount and lowering the threshold where it can be used, it would address a burning problem.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It’s election fever in Hungary. The national elections the 6th April will decide and show important things. As soon as they will be over and the parties have digested their results, the European election campaign will start. Usually, European elections are used as risk-free safety valves – discontent with governing (or in general „establishment” or mainstream parties can be expressed, without a consequence on domestic politics. In Hungary this time this doesn’t have to be so: domestic political opinions can be expressed in April and there will be no experience on the performance of the new government (which will be formed about a month after the elections only). Hungarian national elections also have seen a lot of protest votes and this time this will not be different. But this is another story. It can be expected that the campaign and the voting will really be about Europe, and also that only those go voting, who are interested in Europe. Thus, less Eurosceptic votes can be expected – save some surprise and a huge mobilisation by the eurosceptics – who cannot expect domestic advantage from the votes. What message can the parties give? More Europe, roaming fees, federalism, Agenda 2020, peace – or on the other side: national independence, exploitation, eurocracy – the latter are easy and popular messages but do not mean more than the ones in the first group. If we investigate, however, the national interests which Europe can support or hinder, there can be clearer messages. Hungary is dependent on imports (among them energy from Russia) and also on exports. Foreign capital is an important factor in creating employment. Hungarians are not as mobile as some other East- and Central-Europeans but still fairly mobile. Learning languages is paramount for young people and for job-seekers. Free movement in the EU is in our interest. To be able to export, we are interested in all measures to provide not just a level playing field but also abolishing administrative barriers, thus: unification of rules and practices in the area of trade, technical and security requirements, standards. And this also extends to the legal field: consumers in Hungary should be safe in buying European products and Hungarian products should be accepted in the EU as equally good quality and secure. Hungarian companies provide services abroad, competing with lower prices. It is our interest that fears from “social dumping” should not hinder our companies working abroad and our compatriots who want to work or study there. We do not want that Hungarians working abroad should have less social security because working abroad. So we are interested in a level playing field, good rules hindering social dumping so that this allegation should not have a basis. However, our budget and social security is not strong enough to provide the level in some richer countries and if we were forced to do that, we would lose our competitivity and even face serious financial problems at home. In the area of consumer protection and data protection, we favour a common approach and the possibility that the consumer or citizen (who would like to complain against abuse of personal data or unfair practices in selling or servicing goods) should be able to do it without having to b entangled in legal disputes in a faraway country. I will also go on to talk about other areas but would like to raise another question: who should be the Hungarian Commissioner and what function could he/she target? We already have some experience in the dealings and also the pitfalls of the distribution of responsibilities in the Commission.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A new survey report from Gallup shows some interesting figures for Hungary. The general trend is not at all surprising: The appreciation of EU leadership is at record low. "Although it suffered double-digit losses in support in countries such as Cyprus and Spain (the latter of which exited the bailout program at the end of 2013), low approval of the EU's leadership was not limited to bailout countries. Fewer than one in three approved of the EU's leadership in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.". The trend from 2012 to 2013 is increasing a little in Portugal and Italy and, surprise: in Hungary where (like in Italy) it almost reached the level of 2010. This is not a big feat, but remarkable and countering the general trend. We will see, whether this is just a fluctuation, or a real turn of the tide. In fact. change between 2008 and 2013 has been positive in 8 countries, only 3 of them new member states (which joined in 2004, Bulgaria and Romania and 4 countries joining in 2004 were not measured in 2008). The trend from 2012 to 2013 is in fact more encouraging but not compensating for the loss during the crisis in most countries. "Europeans between the ages of 15 and 30 are and have been, on average, the most likely to support the EU's leadership. In 2011, a majority of young people in only a handful of countries disapproved of the EU's leadership. In 2013, the youngest generation continued to be the most likely to approve of EU leadership compared with the older age groups. In 14 EU countries, a majority of this youngest group approved of EU leadership." The trend, however, is not encouraging, recent developments have influenced young people negatively. For Hungary, it is remarkable that there was an increase in approval from 2011 to 2012 but a slight decrease to 2013. 33 % approval in 2010, which increased to 45 for 2012 but fell to 41 in 2013. In twelve countries has the appreciation improved among young people from 2012 to 2013. Cypriot, Italian, Spanish and Finnish youth got the most disappointed from 2012 to 2013, while young people in Ireland, France, Finland, Spain and Italy experienced the biggest disappointment from 2008 to 2013. Only Finland and Spain are in both groups - an odd couple, isn't it? The two countries with the most of EU institutions score relatively well: Belgium shows a positive change on all four counts (from 2008 to 2013 and 2012 to 2013 among the total population and young people also) while Luxembourg has a high rating but youth data from 2008 and 2012 are missing and the rest of the trend is negative, and an improvement can only be seen in the total population from 2012 to 2013.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Is it a saga or a soap opera? How far can the Hungarian opposition play with the trust of its prospective voters?

There are a number of topics in my head to write about but the developments in the latest days have overwritten all. The question of the last moves of the opposition movements was always, how they can win the hesitating voters without losing their faithful ones. And this is getting hmmm... - but judge yourselves On the proposal of Gyurcsány, the most controversial figure in the opposition, a common festive mass meeting/demonstration has been organised to commemorate the anniversary of the 1956 revolution (which is at the moment one of the constitutive elements of Hungarian political identity). This with the background that the Hungarian Socialist Party (the main governing party between 2002 and 2010, suffering a grave defeat in 2010 and whose prime minister Gyurcsány was till Bajnai took over for the last year or so just to put the budget and the economy in order - which he did - without further political ambitions) and the movement of Bajnai signed their co-operation agreement, leaving Gyurcsány's party (called Democratic Coalition) out, citing overblown demands of the latter. Since support for Gyurcsány is growing fast. They even said that the Gyurcsány-fans will want to remove Orbán and the FIDESZ and therefore will vote for whoever has a realistic chance to do it. Gossip and speculation was abound that this is all tactics and they will agree with Gyurcsány at the end. Gyurcsány actually hinted strongly that the party finances of the MSzP were coming from dubious sources during their government years. And a fake video was apparently made by a Democratic Coalition "footsoldier" and given to an MSzP middle-level "officer" on which roma were discussing voting for FIDESZ in exchange of money and other perks on an intermediate election. Meanwhile, liberal movements with no real following that mushroomed in the years since the demise of SzDSz, the "official" liberal party, which was the junior partner in Gyurcsány's government and totally disintegrated after the - for them totally lost - 2010 elections. A conservative party also emerged under Bokros, the finance minister in the 1994-98 socialist-liberal governments two.year period when they followed austerity policies, economically very successful but politically disastrous. So, the speakers on the demonstration were the following: Bajnai first, then two ex-liberals - one of the Kuncze, who was minister and head of SzDSz for most of its heyday and declared before not having political ambitions but having a programme on Klubrádió, the emblematic radio of the opposition, mainly MSzP-leaning. Aftern them, Bokros, Gyurcsány and finally Attila Mesterházy, the president of the MSzP. Bajnai is not a charismatic leader and a dull speaker but has good thoughts and is speaking in earnest. So he was no surprise. The three following speakers all mentioned the need to co-operate to oust Orbán and then Gyurcsány showed his best form - he is charismatic,clever but some fear that his reputation as prime minister (he failed in getting through his plans and was always very outspoken but a Josephinist politician, not able to win support for his policies in his party's own ranks which may be the mistake of the "ranks" also) and the result of the propaganda against him in all FIDESZ media - which now includes the public media also - he scares away more uncertain voters than he brings. He was passionately arguing for and alliance of all opposition forces. And then, during the speech of Mesterházy, the audience started to shout demanding the alliance. Mesterházy did not give in, he calmed the crowd and finished his speech while people were leaving and he earned a scant applause only. After the event, explanations were raised and insults exchanged, I spare you this. The question was still there: what will those people do, who want Orbán and the FIDESZ to go but would like to have a wider front. And whether this narrower front - Bajnai's unifying reputation being tarnished by the events - will get sufficient votes to win. A little explanation to Bajnai: he wanted to form an umbrella organisation which would be neutral enough to enable that all opposition parties and movements can join in without having to lose their character. But then FIDESZ changed the election law to make such a solution impossible. Then Bajnai started a party from three different parts and started negotiating the alliance with the other parties. To add insult to injury (and thus cutting short a lot of the afterthoughts of the events on the demonstration) The party of Bajnai declared its support for and participation on the "March of the Székelys" for autonomy of Transylvania. Without going into the details on Hungarians in Romania, I can only say that the decision made huge waves - almost a tsunami - in Hungary. The main organisers of this march are the extreme right parties and movements and FIDESZ is also participating. So joining them is a great blow to those, who think that Hungary should not interfere this way with the neighbouring countries. Rational arguments are also there: Orbán gave Hungarian nationality to Hungarians living abroad and voting rights (although only half, but this can be extended if found as discriminatory by the Constitutional Court) to them (a slight simplification was inevitable here). Now, the Romanian State is asked to give autonomy to an area where foreign citizens also voting in their second country are concentrated. And already a number of high-profile members left Bajnai's movement for that. MSzP, however, voiced its support. These moves are also diametrical to Gyurcsány's point of view - that Hungarians should not interfere with state affairs of Romania but they support autonomy and reject double citizenship in its form given by Hungary and the voting rights of citizens outside Hungary. Heated discussion is going on on different fora about the decision of Bajnai. Many followers reject it, even saying they will not vote for them. On the other hand, the choice of those who want change in Hungary, is not easy if Gyurcsány remains separate. There is a chance that his support grows. But it will not reach the support of Bajnai and the MSzP together. And therefore the latter two have a greater chance to send Orbán away. Will voters vote for them and abandon Gyurcsány out of tactics? Or will voters rather vote for Gyurcsány? How much are voters bound to accept? Is the support of Bajnai and the MSzP for the nationalist movement bring new votes at all? It may, as voters who have national ideas but see the tragic direction in which Orbán leads the country, can be lured. But till now, they were told that the opposition is ant-national. Is it easy to change their perception? An explanatory note: the Hungarian elections will be decided in the individual constituencies, where the one who has the most votes will immediately win the mandate, however low the participation is.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some lessons from Tocqeville: Democratic despotism

Quotes from: Democratic despotism – Tocqueville: Democracy in America FOURTH BOOK INFLUENCE OF DEMOCRATIC IDEAS AND FEELINGS ON POLITICAL SOCIETY
 My remarks in italics 
Any resemblance to the present situation is just the game of fantasy.

"For the principle of equality begets two tendencies: the one leads men straight to independence and may suddenly drive them into anarchy; the other conducts them by a longer, more secret, but more certain road to servitude. Nations readily discern the former tendency and are prepared to resist it; they are led away by the latter, without perceiving its drift; hence it is peculiarly important to point it out.

This never dying, ever kindling hatred which sets a democratic people against the smallest privileges is peculiarly favorable to the gradual concentration of all political rights in the hands of the representative of the state alone. The sovereign, being necessarily and incontestably above all the citizens, does not excite their envy, and each of them thinks that he strips his equals of the prerogative that he concedes to the crown. The man of a democratic age is extremely reluctant to obey his neighbor, who is his equal; he refuses to acknowledge superior ability in such a person; he mistrusts his justice and is jealous of his power; he fears and he despises him; and he loves continually to remind him of the common dependence in which both of them stand to the same master."

 The extension of powers of government to areas never experienced before, overzealous regulation, interference with economy, morals, everyday life of people is the consequence
After having shown how equality leads to loss of freedom, it is explained how and why they accept it and what is the illusion which makes it seem still democratic (what we have heard saying: politicians want us to go and vote every four years and let dem do what they want inbetween - an extreme form of this was the recent idea of the president of the Hungarian Parliament, László Kövér that even the Parliament should give a four years blank cheque to the government.

 "Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain.
By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large.

I admit that, by this means, room is left for the intervention of individuals in the more important affairs; but it is not the less suppressed in the smaller and more privates ones. It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions only exhibits servitude at certain intervals and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.
I add that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and only privilege which remains to them."

And a false remedy of this is to debate whether a certain election result really reflects the will of the people (see: two-thirds majority with 53% of the votes).

"After having exhausted all the different modes of election without finding one to suit their purpose, they are still amazed and still bent on seeking further; as if the evil they notice did not originate in the constitution of the country far more than in that of the electoral body.
It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people."

But Tocqueville also explains how this trend can be avoided, how we can prevent that "democratic despotism" develops: Freedom of press and independence of the judiciary, transfer of power to elected local bodies, importance of civil society.
And here again a point which may be surprising: adhering to forms, not just stepping over them as things which do not influence the essence.

"Men living in democratic ages do not readily comprehend the utility of forms: they feel an instinctive contempt for them, I have elsewhere shown for what reasons. Forms excite their contempt and often their hatred; as they commonly aspire to none but easy and present gratifications, they rush onwards to the object of their desires, and the slightest delay exasperates them. This same temper, carried with them into political life, renders them hostile to forms, which perpetually retard or arrest them in some of their projects.
Yet this objection which the men of democracies make to forms is the very thing which renders forms so useful to freedom; for their chief merit is to serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak, the ruler and the people, to retard the one and give the other time to look about him. Forms become more necessary in proportion as the government becomes more active and more powerful, while private persons are becoming more indolent and more feeble. Thus democratic nations naturally stand more in need of forms than other nations, and they naturally respect them less. This deserves most serious attention. "

Not by chance, the limitation of the independence of the data protection authority, the ombudsman (ombudsmen) is clearly shown here as a way to undermine freedom and thus at the end of the day, real democracy (remember: people who are only free to vote, will l to judge correctly for whom to vote is in their real interest).

"Another tendency which is extremely natural to democratic nations and extremely dangerous is that which leads them to despise and undervalue the rights of private persons. The attachment that men feel to a right and the respect that they display for it are generally proportioned to its importance or to the length of time during which they have enjoyed it. The rights of private persons among democratic nations are commonly of small importance, of recent growth, and extremely precarious; the consequence is that they are often sacrificed without regret and almost always violated without remorse.
But it happens that, at the same period and among the same nations in which men conceive a natural contempt for the rights of private persons, the rights of society at large are naturally extended and consolidated; in other words, men become less attached to private rights just when it is most necessary to retain and defend what little remains of them. It is therefore most especially in the present democratic times, that the true friends of the liberty and the greatness of man ought constantly to be on the alert to prevent the power of government from lightly sacrificing the private rights of individuals to the general execution of its designs. At such times no citizen is so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed; no private rights are so unimportant that they can be surrendered with impunity to the caprices of a government. The reason is plain: if the private right of an individual is violated at a time when the human mind is fully impressed with the importance and the sanctity of such rights, the injury done is confined to the individual whose right is infringed; but to violate such a right at the present day is deeply to corrupt the manners of the nation and to put the whole community in jeopardy, because the very notion of this kind of right constantly tends among us to be impaired and lost. "

And about the relationship between the common good and the rights of individuals, where it is tempting to put the common good before that of the individuals:

"When any nation has, within a short space of time, repeatedly varied its rulers, its opinions, and its laws, the men of whom it is composed eventually contract a taste for change and grow accustomed to see all changes effected by sudden violence. Thus they naturally conceive a contempt for forms which daily prove ineffectual; and they do not support without impatience the dominion of rules which they have so often seen infringed.
As the ordinary notions of equity and morality no longer suffice to explain and justify all the innovations daily begotten by a revolution, the principle of public utility is called in, the doctrine of political necessity is conjured up, and men accustom themselves to sacrifice private interests without scruple and to trample on the rights of individuals in order more speedily to accomplish any public purpose. "

So, what about a revolution?

"...revolutionary tendencies, becoming more gentle and more regular, without entirely disappearing from society, will be gradually transformed into habits of subjection to the administrative authority of the government. I know of no countries in which revolutions are more dangerous than in democratic countries, because, independently of the accidental and transient evils that must always attend them, they may always create some evils that are permanent and unending.
I believe that there are such things as justifiable resistance and legitimate rebellion; I do not therefore assert as an absolute proposition that the men of democratic ages ought never to make revolutions; but I think that they have especial reason to hesitate before they embark on them and that it is far better to endure many grievances in their present condition than to have recourse to so perilous a remedy. "

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Minimum wages in Europe

The Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut of the Hans Böckler Foundation published its 2013 report on minimum wages. 21 of the 28 member states of the EU have them set by law (in Germany no general minimum wage exists, it is set only in some professions). The report compares the hourly minimum wages of EU and also third countries. Of course an average would not make sense (even when the number of people earning minimum wage would be known and used for weighting. Comparison and developments are worth looking at, however. 12 EU member states increased the minimum wage the 1st January 2013 (and two others late 2012) while Greece cut it by 23 percent. Portugal, Ireland, Romania and the Czech Republic froze their minimum wage. In Western Europe is the hourly minimum wage between 8.65 and 10.83 Euro, while in the Mediterranean countries between 3 and 4.06 Euro. Eastern European countries are the only ones paying below 2 Euro, while Slovenia is higher than the Mediterranean bunch, with 4.53. The lowest is the minimum earning in the two countries joining in 2007 (the newest member, Croatia has no minimum wage set) and in the three Baltic countries. Hungary precedes Slovakia and the Czech republic, just below 2 EUR (1.95 in Hungary, 1.94 in Slovakia and 1.91 in the Czech Republic. Of course the comparison has to be adjusted to purchasing power parity. Hungary's price level is 61.9 percent of the EU in 2012 (compared to 74.6 of the Czech Republic and 71.6 of Slovakia (see: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tec00120). This will give 3.15 EUR in PPP for Hungary, while 2.60 for Slovakia and 2.67 for the Czech Republic, i.e. the Hungarian real minimum wage is higher. It is said by many economists and apparently data show that they are right, that increasing it in Hungary is not a good idea. In other cases, the order did not change by using purchasing power parities. It is worth mentioning Greece: 3.60 EUR compared to 3,36 in Portugal. but lower than Spain (4.09). So despite the strong cut in Greece, and that it fell behind Malta and Spain with this cut, it is still within the range of similar countries. The foundation also keeps a Database of minimum wages. Another interesting page summarising information and opinions about the minimum wage.