5 questions with...István Ujhelyi

István Ujhelyi (HU/S&D) is vice-chair of the parliaments transport and tourism (TRAN) committee.
Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

1. What is the smallest change you have made in your career that has had the biggest positive result?

It was a sudden decision to stand for and become a member of the European Parliament in 2014. Before Brussels, I’d worked for 12 years as a member of the Hungarian Parliament, served years in the leftist governments and served as Vice-Chair of the National Assembly in Hungary. It was also a seemingly insignificant decision to become Vice-Chair in the TRAN committee five years ago, but it has made a big difference: today I’m a leading politician in tourism.

2. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?

Before the European elections the Orbán regime tried to hunt me down. As the campaign leader of the social democrats, I was clearly their target. While OLAF has already stated that the Fidesz government is one of the most corrupt in Europe and Fidesz executives accumulate billions in private wealth, they tried to discredit me. Because I have nothing to hide, I invited the entire press and drove them around my house to see the conditions I live in. More than one million people have seen the live broadcast on Facebook, and the lying propaganda media has been clearly ashamed.

3. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?

These days I have re-read the book “Cölöpök” (Piles) by former Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn. It is always inspiring in social and political terms.

4. Which person have worked you with which has most inspired you in your career, and how?

He will probably hate to read this – because he would prefer to stay in the background, but I honestly think that my head of cabinet, Lajos Tamás Szalay has brought important inspiration to my life. We are two distinct and different characters, yet we make an excellent partnership in strategymaking.

5. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?

My close friends say I can’t really relax. This is something my MEP team will surely confirm: I am constantly on the move. As a father of five, I really switch o‑ when I can be with my children. That is, of course, if you can call it relaxation when you have five kids around you.

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