- Title: Hungary's Socialists make leftist turn to challenge Orban
- Date: 26th May 2017
- Summary: SZEGED, HUNGARY (FILE - 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SZEGED CITY CENTRE
- Embargoed: 9th June 2017 10:39
- Keywords: election wall migration Orban
- Location: BUDAPEST, ROSZKE, SZEGED, HUNGARY
- City: BUDAPEST, ROSZKE, SZEGED, HUNGARY
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0066IH66NT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hungary's opposition Socialists aim to bolster support with their new, more leftist programme before forming any alliances to try to unseat Prime Minister Viktor Orban in elections next year, their candidate for premier said.
Orban, who has locked horns with Western partners over his unwinding of democratic checks and balances and his harsh rhetoric in the recent migration crisis, is runaway favourite to win a third straight term in elections next April, against a fragmented opposition.
Laszlo Botka, the 44-year-old mayor of the southern city of Szeged, told the Reuters Central & Eastern Europe Investment Summit on Wednesday that the only way to beat Orban is to have a single leftist challenger.
He said there would be absolutely no cooperation with Jobbik, whose politics he called unsuccessful and inauthentic.
The Socialist began to unveil their programme this month, pledging to bring back a progressive personal income tax, to replace the current flat tax regime that would re-route about 350 billion forints ($1.3 bln) per year to the poor and the middle classes.
Botka also said he would dismantle a fence along the border with Serbia - which Orban put up to keep migrants from entering Hungary - as soon as European Union border protection controls are in place and the situation in the Middle East calms down. He said he would never have built the fence in the first place but now that it is there they need to see guarantees that the EU-Turkey co-operation is working so the fence would not be necessary.
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