Hungary: crunch time with the EU/IMF
Viktor Orbán, Hungary's prime minister, held out what looked like an olive branch to the European Union and International Monetary Fund on Monday, saying his government should give ground to secure a funding agreement. But the path of peace and light may not be so well mapped out.
Imre Kertész's Hungary: a country on the wrong side of history
Extract of an article published by Le Monde on 10 February
I have lived in Berlin for the past 10 years, far away from Hungary's political affairs. However if you want to understand it, you'd have to look at the painter Marcel Duchamp, who said: "There isn't a solution, because there isn't a problem." This quote applies to Hungary perfectly. There's nothing new in this country; we are in the same situation as we were during the János Kádár years (1956-1988). Hungary is mesmerised by Orbán the way some were by the pied piper of Hamelin. There is a profound subtext to it, and it brings a huge doubt in me ...
I am wondering whether the country has made a choice between Asia and western Europe. Don't forget that Hungarians are the descendants of Asian tribes who were living at the heart of Europe in the 9th century. At school, Hungarian pupils learn that their ancestors came from the southern steppes of the Ural mountains to develop the Carpathian basin. All Hungarians are therefore confronted with this double-belonging game, this contradiction: the norms of a Christian society are different from those of a clan-based society. If I insist on this double polarity, it is because it resides at the heart of today's situation.
Nokia: job cuts on the Danube
Nokia's decision to include Hungary in its latest round of job cuts, announced on Wednesday, could not have come at a worse time for embattled prime minister Viktor Orbán.
A day after Orban praised the Finnish company in his annual state of the nation speech as a model investor for creating secure jobs, Nokia revealed plans to cut 2,300 posts in Hungary, among 4,000 going worldwide.
That's a bit embarrassing, both for the Finns, who like to build good relations with host governments, and for Orbán, who is struggling to restore Hungary's good name among international investors. More fundamentally, it's also a sign of the growing difficulties faced by export-oriented east European economies in competing with east Asia.
Sinister path Hungary is taking should worry us all
But more sinister developments are taking place in Hungary.
Over the past year, there's been a steady erosion of democracy and human rights and this is triggering alarm bells internationally.
Since coming to power in 2010, Viktor Orban's centre-right Fidesz Party has introduced a spate of laws that jeopardise the independence of the judiciary, the central bank, data-protection agencies and the freedom of the press.
His government has also changed electoral boundaries that will favour his party in future elections. Many of these laws were consolidated in a new constitution that came into force in January 2012 and some of them will require a supermajority of two-thirds of the parliament to be changed in the future.
Hungary is drifting towards one-party rule
It is true that the EU institutions have now engaged. But the response is late and far from perfect, which speaks to the union's limited arsenal for managing political miscreants once they are admitted to the club. Even with a EU-IMF programme in place, many of the key legislative pieces of Mr Orbán's agenda will go unaddressed. In fact, it is Mr Orbán's awareness of the EU's futility that is impelling him to strike a deal in the first place.
What's wrong with Hungary? - Francis Fukuyama
I have, to put it mildly, been somewhat astonished at the heated reaction that my blog post "Do Institutions Matter?" has provoked, culminating in a letter from the Hungarian State Secretary for Communication, Zoltán Kovács, to The American Interest complaining about my piece and contesting various points in it. I'm now one of the few Americans to have a web site in Hungarian devoted to my mistakes! In many ways, the vehemence of the response and the extremely uncivil comments that Hungarians have made about each other is a disturbing confirmation that something has gone badly off track with Hungarian democracy.
Radical party spokesman says Jews 'colonizing' Hungary
Prof. Dovid Katz, a leading expert on Eastern European and Baltic-based anti-Semitism, told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday that "the situation in Hungary is much more volatile than it looks. Much of what Jobbik is saying is embraced by Fidesz. A certain type of anti-Semitism is camouflaged as center-right."
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry on Sunday issued a statement condemning comments made by radical nationalist Jobbik lawmaker Marton Gyongyosi, which were reported in the Jerusalem Post. The ministry said that it firmly condemned the Jobbik lawmaker's comments which first appeared in an article written in the Jewish Chronicle. The opposition Socialists welcome that both the Foreign Ministry and the co-ruling Christian Democrats have dissociated themselves from the comments made by radical nationalist Jobbik lawmaker Márton Gyöngyösi at the weekend but see a need for further action, Socialist Party leader Attila Mesterházy. The Socialists welcomed these reactions but added that both the government and the Speaker of Parliament should take further steps against Gyöngyösi, said Mesterházy. Should comments that fully or partly deny the Holocaust not entail any political consequence, the Socialists will initiate legal action, he said.
A Revised Portrait of Hungary's Right-Wing Extremists
The leader of Hungary's right-wing extremists rarely expresses himself so clearly. Speaking before a crowd of a few thousand supporters in Budapest's Sportmax complex on Saturday, Jan. 21, Gábor Vona announced the end of liberal democracy in the world. In the speech traditionally delivered before party members in January, the 33-year-old politician demanded "no compromising" either with or as part of the ruling political system, calling instead for "fighting, fighting and still more fighting." "We are not communists, fascists or National Socialists," Vona said. "But -- and this is important for everyone to understand very clearly -- we are also not democrats!"
Democracy in Hungary Takes a Right Turn
If there ever was a peaceful march, this was it. There was no smiling, no shouting, and no dancing. People were silent, somber, and dignified, wearing black woolen overcoats and leather gloves. In fact the most colorful items on display were the Hungarian flags fashioned into scarves and capes. There were families pushing infants in plastic strollers and old couples holding hands, candles and torches, but there was no one younger than 40. Nobody spoke.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 07:55