Theaters and stadiums close in Hungary due to inflation

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Teatros y estadios cierran en Hungría por la inflación

Built at the initiative of the Hungarian prime minister, the brand-new stadiums that reflect Viktor Orban’s love of football will have to turn off the lights due to the sharp rise in the price of electricity.

And they are not the only ones. Theatres, libraries, swimming pools or the famous thermal baths are added to the long list of places that turn off the lights in this central European country, hit head-on by inflation and the energy crisis.

An unprecedented situation and one that is received with resignation by the Hungarians.

– "there is no taboo" –

In Szekesfehervar, 60 km from Budapest, the football club, which is in the first division, no longer has access to its stadium. Built in 2018, it can receive 14,000 spectators and is the pride of the commune.

"there is no taboo"Mayor Andras Cser-Palkovics, a member of the ruling Fidesz party, told AFP.

Sport is sacred in Orban’s country, which launched an ambitious national program to build and renovate stadiums.

But "should also contribute to the common effort"considers the 48-year-old official, who also closed museums and theaters.

Among the population of 100,000 inhabitants, "no one welcomes these measures" that give the commune an appearance of a dead city, but "no choice"add.

"Obviously, education and health are priorities, since it is more important to go to the doctor than to watch a football game."says Geza Deli, 72, crossing the main street.

Nor are there any recriminations from the players, forced to train on smaller pitches during the winter truce.

The job "has not been particularly affected by the drastic decision to save energy"Mol Fehervar FC said in a statement.

"After January, we will see what will happen"underlines Andras Cser-Palkovics, who asked the Federation to schedule the matches before nightfall.

Other top clubs, such as Honved and Debrecen, also lack a stadium.

– The "tactic" Orban’s –

Hungary is bracing for a severe winter and its Prime Minister, who gloried about cheap energy in his country, is under pressure.

Inflation is one of the highest in the European Union (21.6% as of October in a year), recession threatens and the country still expects 14,000 million euros of European funds, blocked due to concerns about corruption and The rule of law.

Discontent grows in the streets, teachers protest against poverty wages. In stores and gas stations, capping the prices of oil and basic food products leads to shortages.

A problem for which Viktor Orban blames the European Union. "Sanctions (against Russia) ruin us"say banners placed throughout the country in the framework of a national consultation.

"It’s the great accusation game"says Andrea Virag, from the Republikon think tank. "It is clear that the government’s tactic is to blame Europe"a speech that works in part.

"Studies show that many people believe the Fidesz tale and accuse the EU"says the expert.

Although Szekesfehervar has factories on its territory, which makes it one of the richest cities in Hungary, this is not the case for other communes threatened with bankruptcy.

"Without state support, many will not be able to pay the bills. But it is useless to wait for a miracle, it is better to assume the problem ourselves"considers Andras Cser-Palkovics.

The director of the municipal theater Janos Szikora has already found another place where the actors will be able to rehearse during the two months of closure.

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