Béla Pomogáts: A legend’s reincarnation

Béla Pomogáts is a historian of literature and a literary critic whose main field of interest is twentieth-century Hungarian literature, including works by writers living outside the current borders of Hungary. He is the author of the encyclopedic study Newest Hungarian Literature, 1945-1981 (1982) and of several books on Hungarian writers in the neighboring countries. 

Béla Pomogáts began his studies at ELTE in 1953. I followed him a year later. Both of us majored in Hungarian, and both of us became members of the Revolutionary Student Committee during the 1956 Read the rest

A plagiarist educator? Yes, she will be the next principal of a Budapest high school

The following scandal might be a tempest in a teapot, but it typifies who gets ahead in today’s Hungary.

At the end of this school year the tenure of the current principal of the Antal Budai Nagy Gymnasium in Budafok / District XXII is coming to an end. According to the law, Mrs. Kiss, née Beáta Prim could be reappointed without an open application procedure if she is supported by the faculty, the students, and the parents. There is certainly no problem here. Kiss is liked by her colleagues: 42 … Read the rest

The rule book of ELTE’s Rector Magnificus

Yesterday I tackled some aspects of Hungarian graduate education that I find distasteful, unnecessary, and possibly illegal. One of the readers of Hungarian Spectrum called my attention to ELTE’s latest rule book, a staggering 175 pages, governing all aspects of the academic careers of doctoral candidates.

Reading this rule book, I got the distinct impression that the relationship between a student and the university  is quasi-contractual, with possible legal consequences. Among the rules, in this case relating to conditions that would disqualify a faculty member from being a student’s … Read the rest

The price of a Ph.D.: One has to swear to Fidesz’s Basic Law

On June 26 Judit Kende, a young social psychologist who just finished her Ph.D. at ELTE, wrote the following on her Facebook page:

This is what happened yesterday: I’m not a Ph.D. after all. It turned out that in order to get it I would have to swear to Hungary’s Basic Law, and this in my opinion was too high a price…. For example, the discriminatory sections of the Basic Laws limit the rights of LGBT people and the disabled and allow the criminalization of homelessness. So, by law I

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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