Fact checking Viktor Orbán’s latest speech

I know that some readers found Viktor Orbán’s speech more worthy of analysis than I did. To me, it was just more of the same. I did, however, decide to do some fact checking. Orbán’s assertions about the dangers immigrants pose to European civilization might be technically correct (and, yes, those immigrants include East Europeans, not just people from “alien” cultures), but he conveniently left out details and background information that give us a fuller understanding of the issues.

Image and icons by Amy Crone / Voice of San Diego

Image and icons by Amy Crone / Voice of San Diego

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Demographic realities and Viktor Orbán’s ideas on immigration

Over the past thirty years Hungary has been sliding toward a demographic disaster. And the slide has only accelerated of late. In 2010 the population fell below 10 million. In the first five months of 2011 10% fewer babies were born and 2.7% more people died than during the same period a year earlier. The second Orbán government was keenly aware of the problem and tried, in its own way, to remedy the situation with all sorts of financial incentives, which didn’t work. In 2012 Fidesz MPs delivered optimistic … Read the rest

What can we learn about U.S.-Hungarian relations from János Lázár?

A huge sigh of relief. Viktor Orbán’s speech in Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tușnad is not worth reporting on. Normally he tests out his latest vision for Hungary on this occasion, but this time there was nothing new in the speech. Although he shares the view of the Hungarian far-right that the current migration of masses of people from the Middle East and Africa resulted from the United States’ invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and its support of the Arab Spring and although his speech was full of ire against the migrants and … Read the rest

Hungarian spies are everywhere

As the minister of the prime minister’s office responsible for, among other things, Hungarian intelligence, János Lázár has very little sense of what should remain secret. I found the minutes of his speech at the meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on June 23 shocking. He outlined several ongoing Hungarian intelligence projects, endangering not only the work of the Hungarian intelligence community but also the anonymity of its members.

So, what did we learn about Hungarian intelligence from Lázár? A lot. He began with Ukraine, a country that … Read the rest

The European Commission is cracking down on Hungarian infringements

Many critics of the Orbán government complain bitterly that the European Union is utterly helpless and perhaps even uncaring when it comes to Viktor Orbán’s leading the country toward a practically one-party system. And, yes, it is true that the European Union can do little, aside from talking to the prime minister of Hungary, when it comes to politics. But let’s not forget about the European Commission’s mighty sword: money.

Naturally, there can be no direct link between “political sins” and “monetary punishment.” EU subsidies can be withdrawn only if … Read the rest

Two faces of a country: Hungary and the refugees

The following article was written by a Hungarian economic analyst who would like to remain anonymous.

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It is symptomatic how Hungary’s various actors have reacted to the topic of refugees in recent months.

Macro level–The government

In spring 2015, the government of Viktor Orbán saw itself confronted with major challenges. A series of corruption scandals came to light and the governing party’s popularity began to slide visibly. Fidesz had lost all three of the latest interim elections for parliamentary seats, sparking nervousness in their ranks.

From Fidesz's popularity declining from 2014. Jobbik (black) profited most

From Fidesz’s

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Ad hoc hurdles to holding a referendum on Sunday store closings

It’s becoming crystal clear that Viktor Orbán will do everything in his power to prevent a referendum on the question of Sunday store closings. The reason is most likely his fear that, in spite of the tough conditions the government enacted for a referendum to be declared valid, there is a good likelihood that a referendum on this issue would bring out more than the requisite half of the approximately eight million citizens eligible to vote. Polls show that 70-80% of Hungarians, quite independently of party sympathies, find the Sunday … Read the rest