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Budapest Demographic Summit champions 'traditional family values'

Hungary is a strong bastion of support for families in the world, Viktor Orbán said on the opening day of the 5th Budapest Demographic Summit on Thursday 14 September 2023
Hungary is a strong bastion of support for families in the world, Viktor Orbán said on the opening day of the 5th Budapest Demographic Summit on Thursday 14 September 2023 Copyright ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP or licensors
Copyright ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AFP
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Speaking at the bi-annual Budapest Demographic Summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stressed the importance of "family-friendly, conservative powers" in Europe.

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Hungary is a strong bastion of support for families in the world, Viktor Orbán said on the opening day of the 5th Budapest Demographic Summit on Thursday. 

The Prime Minister also said that Europe is still led by a progressive and liberal elite, while demographic issues, for example, are not being discussed instead of the continent's important issues. 

Orban stressed that Hungary is an incubator for conservative policies, a place where the conservative policies of the future, workable solutions, and forward-looking initiatives are being developed. 

Since taking power in 2010, Orban has styled himself as an "illiberal" defender of Christianity and "pro-family" values in the central European country of 9.7 million.

"We need a change in the political course. We have to make sure that family-friendly, conservative powers take over in as many European countries as possible," Orban told the conference.

A subsidised housing scheme for young married couples was introduced in 2015, while policies announced in 2019 include lifelong tax exemption for women who bear four or more children.

Drawing interest from conservative and far-right politicians and prominent figures, such as US tech billionaire Elon Musk, critics say however, the policies have fuelled inequality and discrimination.

Arguing the policies' success, Hungary's government points to a marriage rate that has doubled from 3.6 marriages per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 7.4 in 2021, far above the EU average of 3.9 that year.

The fertility rate stood at 1.61 live births per woman in 2021, also above the EU average of 1.53 and up from a record low of 1.23 in 2011.

However, critics say this still falls short of the government's goal of a fertility rate of 2.1 by 2030, which is needed to reverse a decline in the population.

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