The left has been misleading the public about the effects of overhead cost reduction for years

Questioning the positive effects of overhead cost reduction on Hungarian households, the appropriateness of administered prices and suggesting that the aforementioned civilian government’s measure have put the population at a disadvantage are recurring elements in the statements of the leading politicians of the left-liberal bloc. Péter Márki-Zay, the candidate for prime minister of left-wing forces, has recently called the overhead cost reduction a “huge scam” and then several leading left-liberal politicians have followed suit. Given these developments, Századvég, continuing its series of analyses in which it explores and refutes misleading left-wing statements and misunderstandings related to overhead cost reductions until 2013, has looked at the (financially significant) consequences of the overhead cost reduction program.

The left has been misleading the public about the effects of overhead cost reduction for years

Overhead legend, a big lie, a sham measure – this is how the left questions the results of the overhead cost reduction

In addition to Márki-Zay’s quoted criticisms, Bernadett Szél, a former candidate for prime minister of LMP and current parliamentary candidate of Momentum, called the overhead cost reduction an “overhead legend” in January, mentioning that “instead of real reduction, it is a price intervention by the state”, while according to Márta V. Naszályi, a member of Párbeszéd leadership, “overhead cost reduction is a big lie”. Similarly, Máté Kanász-Nagy, co-leader of LMP, suggested in a press conference that the overhead cost reduction was a “sham measure”, the introduction of which was based on the government’s intention to advertise “propaganda measures” on water, gas, heating bills, and bank statements. The green party politician added that “propaganda and sham matter to Viktor Orbán”. So, it is clear that

Péter Márki-Zay and his allies intend to give a prominent role to disputing or ignoring the benefits of overhead cost reduction in their election campaign activities,

giving the impression that overhead cost reduction is a campaign rhetoric without meaningful content.

Overhead cost reduction means a relief of HUF 2,600 billion for Hungarian households

It is important to note that the criticisms made nowadays by the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely and the prominent left-liberal figures who support him about the sham nature of overhead cost reduction that cannot be perceived by people, as stated about the sustainability of the measure, do not show a fundamentally different approach to the overhead policy represented by left-wing opinions in recent years.

We should recall that in 2013, on behalf of Magyar Szocialista Párt, Imre Szabó believed that the government “has not added a single forint to the substantive program of overhead cost reduction or helped those in need”, while according to his party colleague, Nándor Gúr, “a 10 percent overhead cost reduction generally results in nothing”. Erzsébet Schmuck, current co-leader of LMP, spoke about “non-existent overhead cost reduction” in 2014, László Kiss, former MSZP and current Demokratikus Koalíció politician, called for “real actions” instead of “overhead gibberish”, and Lajos Kepli, a former member of parliament for Jobbik believed that “this overhead cost reduction and its effect cannot be experienced by society as a whole”. In the fifth year of the overhead cost reduction program, Lórántné Hegedűs, also from Jobbik, stated in 2017 that “it is certainly not overhead cost reduction”.

Contrary to the claims of the left, it is important to emphasize that due to the overhead cost reduction, Hungarian households saved a total of HUF 2,600 billion from the introduction of the measure until 2021. 

A household was able to allocate a total of HUF 627,000 – HUF 6,000 in monthly breakdown – to purposes other than its overhead bills. Between 2005 and 2012, prior to the introduction of the overhead cost reduction, due to the increase in utility tariffs, a household had to calculate an average additional cost of HUF 768,000 when paying overhead bills, which was a burden of HUF 9,000 per month. It is also interesting that, due to the overhead cost reduction program, the share of spending on utilities fell by almost half, from 14 percent to 8 percent, between 2012 and 2019. Although the significant increase in income during the period allowed for a larger, 60 percent, increase in expenses (from HUF 275,000 to HUF 411,000 per month), the average overhead costs still decreased (from HUF 38,500 to HUF 35,280 per month). Thus,

overall, the overhead cost reduction resulted in a 54 percent reduction in overhead items relative to total expense items.

In the light of this, it is clear that, as a result of the overhead cost reduction, households were able to significantly increase their expenditure on education, health, transport or entertainment, both in proportion and in nominal terms. On the other hand,

with the measure in question, the right returned almost entirely the same amount to Hungarian families as the left had taken away from them.

We should also remember that if the market pricing proposed by Péter Márki-Zay and his left-liberal colleagues had come into force in 2021, this year alone an average Hungarian family would have had to pay HUF 366,000 more for overheads. The average annual energy cost of a single person would have increased from HUF 190,000 to HUF 450,000, and that of a family of eight from HUF 480,000 to HUF 1.1 million in 2021 if the left-wing policy had prevailed. In addition, as a result of market pricing, the proportion of energy-poor households would have risen to 12 percent by 2021. In other words, the number of families with heating difficulties would have risen from the current 172,000 to 520,000, that is,

more than one million people on average would have had to give up the comfort of a heated home last year if the market pricing advocated by Márki-Zay had been introduced.

In conclusion, with his communication covering the positive effects of overhead cost reduction, Péter Márki-Zay has been following the same path as left-wing parties since 2013.

Thus, Márki-Zay has not changed the fundamentals of the overhead policy of the left-liberal bloc, he merely attempts to politically disguise them

by proclaiming a “smart overhead cost reduction”.

The full list of left-wing criticisms that have questioned the benefits of overhead cost reduction and called the measure a scam in recent years is summarized in the table below:

Who said it?

What did he/she say?

When did he/she say it?

Dr. Imre Szekeres (MSZP)

“The government of the Szocialista Párt provided the population with about HUF 100 billion a year in subsidies to cover overhead costs on a social basis […], so we are right when we put clear programs on the table on how to really reduce overhead costs in the long run.”


Nándor Gúr (MSZP)

“To put it bluntly: a 10 percent overhead cost reduction brings nothing in general […]”


Gábor Vágó (LMP)

 “Overhead costs will remain high as long as we do not change the energy consumption system itself. This Kádárian attitude is that we are just turning one of the potentiometers down a bit to increase the happiness of the population, but in the long run we will not change the foundations of the system, which is why Hungarian society revolves around and cannot escape from its own shackle."


Imre Szabó (MSZP)

(about the government)

“It has not added a single forint to the substantive program of overhead cost reduction or helped those in need.”


Bernadett Szél (LMP, currently Momentum)

“[…] this country will not get ahead with the hypocritical overhead cost reduction and the public works program.”


István Göndör (MSZP)

“Again, I am saying that it is very bad at a school leaving exam, but if someone ignores the change in the world market price at a college exam or tries to blame the government for the change in world market prices, it is amusing. But, in addition, let me note that about the overhead cost reduction, which they are talking about so proudly, consumers already know that the price has not changed, they only get 10 percent of the total amount of their bill, so you did nothing with the prices.”


Szilvia Lengyel (LMP)

“Overhead cost reduction or no, families will have HUF 20,000-30,000 less in their wallets at the end of the month […]”


Gábor Simon (MSZP)

“I do not think it is the savings in overhead cost reduction that will make families’ consumption so high that it will mean the re-dynamization of the economy.”


Dr. István Apáti (Jobbik, currently Mi Hazánk Mozgalom)

(about utility companies)

“[…] the various taxes levied on multinational corporations can be reversed by them, and they will still have a loophole […], service providers will not have a small but a big loophole to take the result of the overhead cost reduction back from the people.”


Lajos Kepli (Jobbik)

“[…] we think that this overhead cost reduction, its effect is not experienced by society as a whole […]”


Erzsébet Schmuck (LMP)

“[…] since the autumn parliamentary session, you have sacrificed a multitude of working hours for the adoption of a bill, the main benefit of which is to redesign the image of bills for a more effective self-promotion of a non-existent overhead cost reduction […]”


László Kiss (MSZP, currently Demokratikus Koalíció)

“[…] real actions are needed instead of overhead gibberish.”


Ildikó Borbély Bangóné (MSZP)

“To sum up, you have succeeded in zeroing out the apparent benefits of overhead cost reduction.”


Dr. László Szakács (MSZP, currently Demokratikus Koalíció)

“Now you also know that […] an additional expense of about HUF 25,000 has been imposed on each person in the name of overhead cost reduction.”


Attila Mesterházy (MSZP)

“[…] before 2010, due to the gas price compensation, gas was cheaper for those in need than what is now available to people after the overhead cost reduction.”


Lajos Kepli (Jobbik)

“Indeed, the overhead cost reduction proved to be a very clever political communication trick when it was introduced, which has since resulted in substantial savings for a very small number of households, as shown by recent years’ experience.”


Lórántné Hegedűs (Jobbik)

“Let me say one more thing about this: it is certainly not overhead cost reduction […]”


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