Parliament is closed, Gyurcsány is most likely off with his family to rest a bit, President Sólyom has the next few days to ponder what to do with the health care bill, and I am taking a break too. For months now I have been diligently following Hungarian political events and I must say that I’m happy that the year’s end is close. It was a very difficult year for Hungary, although not as dire as the opposition attempts to portray it. Inflation was higher than anticipated and real wages are about 4-5% lower than a year ago. On the bright side the deficit was dramatically lowered in a year: from almost 11% to a little over 6%. Prime Minister Gyurcsány thinks that the worst is over, although a lot depends on the international economic situation, which is not as bright as it could be. Yet I remain optimistic.
All in all, the year ended relatively well. The very important health care bill was passed and even if the president sends it back to parliament or to the Constitutional Court the bill can be always changed a bit to meet with the approval of the Court. It may mean some delay, but the bill cannot be killed. The strike was a flop, while other state employees managed to get reasonable raises through negotiations without any strikes. The family doctors are fairly happy with the co-payments which remain in their pockets. The people have realized that it is nice to be able to buy non-prescription drugs outside of pharmacies, and they are surprised to see that several prescription drugs are cheaper today than before. If the changes introduced bring tangible results in the hospitals and doctor’s offices, the people will realize that the end of the world is not yet at hand.
On this optimistic note I wish all my readers a peaceful and happy holiday season,