Fact Check: Hungary's Government Is NOT Planning To 'Replace' Hungarians With 500,000 Migrant Workers


  • szerzõ: Lead Stories
Fact Check: Hungary's Government Is NOT Planning To 'Replace' Hungarians With 500,000 Migrant Workers No Replacement

Is Hungary's government planning to bring in 500,000 migrant workers to fill industrial jobs that it expects to create in the coming years, "replacing" Hungarian laborers? No, that's not true: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, an anti-immigrant firebrand, said his administration will give priority to workers from Hungary and neighboring countries with sizable ethnic-Hungarian populations. Guest workers will be hired as a last resort and on a temporary basis, he said. Given these parameters, the number of foreign laborers who arrive would likely be significantly less than 500,000, a macroeconomist told Hungarian media.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) on September 17, 2023, under the caption "Population replacement" on an account belonging to Dóra Dúró, a member of Hungary's Parliament with the ultranationalist Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) party. It shows Dúró giving a speech on September 16, 2023, saying:

A relatively new phenomenon is that guest workers are arriving from various, far-away cultures who are not Christians, do not live by our rules, by our laws, and to be sure, they appear in the order of thousands every month... According to the government's plans, 500,000 guest workers will arrive in Hungary in the next 10 years, from South Asia, from Central Asia, from who knows where. Meanwhile, every year, or at least last year, about 40,000 Hungarians are emigrating, mostly to western Europe or even further afield. This population replacement will lead, on the one hand, to Hungarian wages staying continuously low... [Hungarian workers] will continue to emigrate to the West, while guest workers from various different cultures, categorized as 'in low demand,' will arrive in the order of hundreds of thousands.

(All translations by Lead Stories.)

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Sep 27 05:32:45 2023 UTC)

In 2022, Hungarian companies employed about 81,000 foreigners, a 14 percent rise from the previous year, according to data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH). The increase was largely due to a domestic labor shortage, with the number of unfilled jobs reaching 89,460, the most in more than a decade, according to the KSH's preliminary figures.

In a speech to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK) on March 9, 2023, Orbán boasted that his government planned to create 500,000 additional industrial jobs -- but stressed that he wanted to avoid filling them with migrant labor. He said:

Hungary will need 500,000 new workers in the next year or two. It raises a lot of questions... If you look at Western European countries burdened or beefed up with guest workers, you can see the dilemmas they have to face... So, economic policy must be territorially structured in such a way that we can replace the 500,000 missing workers from internal reserves, and that we bring the investments to places that will mobilize the internal reserves there.

If you look at the proportions of guest workers working in Hungary, you will find that there are many from Serbia, many from Romania. Most of them are [ethnic] Hungarian. Not exclusively, but there are a lot of Hungarians. That is why we have reserves in a regional context.

And after that the guest workers can come. Here, too, great caution is required... Hungary belongs to the Hungarians, the jobs also primarily belong to the Hungarians, and the Hungarian economy primarily needs to provide jobs to Hungarian people, and only afterward can everyone else come. Here we have to avoid a trap, a Western European trap, which will be very difficult... If we bring in foreign workers for reasons of convenience, and who knows how many of them end up here, then without realizing it, just like the Westerners, we will be pretty much culturally undermining our own life. This cannot be allowed!

[Guest workers] can only stay for a certain period of time, and if necessary, there is a legal relationship that can be terminated due to public safety and other considerations. Otherwise, we lose our security, that's the situation.

Given the present employment situation, a maximum of roughly 150,000 workers can be "mobilized" from Hungary's domestic population, television channel RTL Hungary quoted macroeconomist József Hornyák as saying in an article published on March 17, 2023. That means companies would have to bring in at least 300,000 laborers from abroad in order to realize Orbán's industry-development aspirations, Hornyák said.

It is unclear how many of these guest workers might be ethnic Hungarians from neighboring countries and how many would come from further away. It is also unclear how many would want to stay, given that Hungary has some of the lowest average wages in the European Union, József Nógrádi, a human-resources specialist, told RTL Hungary.

This TikTok is an iteration of the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which argues that global elites are trying to replace European Christians with non-white migrants, according to the National Immigration Forum (NIF), a U.S. advocacy group. White supremacists have cited this theory as justification for terrorist acts against ethnic and religious minorities, the NIF says.


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