Corruption in Roma organizations: The case of Flórián Farkas

If you were to ask László Bogdán, the maverick, controversial Roma mayor of Cserdi in Baranya County, he would tell you that the Roma organizations that allegedly represent Hungary’s Roma minority should all be abolished. In his opinion, these people are the worst enemies of the Hungarian Roma because they are politically and fiscally corrupt. A large chunk of the billions the European Union and the Hungarian government spent in the last twenty-five years on convergence programs for the Gypsy minority ended up in their pockets.

It’s all too easy … Read the rest

Viktor Orbán continues his fight at home and abroad

Although Prime Minister Viktor Orbán most likely harbors a deep-seated antipathy toward the United States, he and his party have borrowed liberally from U.S. politics. Perhaps most important, they copied American campaign practices. The much criticized “Kubatov lists,” named after Gábor Kubatov, the successful Fidesz campaign manager, are an adaptation of door-to-door campaigns aimed at mobilizing the party’s electoral base. It is this kind of American-style campaigning that has been a key ingredient in Fidesz’s remarkable performance in national and local elections. And Fidesz normally hires American spin doctors every … Read the rest

What’s happening at the Buda-Cash Group? No one knows

On the evening of February 22, an entire police squad arrived at the headquarters of the Buda-Cash Group, a financial institution established in 1995. Despite its unfortunate name, it is not a payday lender. Among other things, Buda-Cash (BC) owns a network of eleven brokerage firms with 200 employees and about 20,000 customers and engages in financial advising and portfolio management. It also owns four small banks that formerly functioned as credit unions and that managed to remain independent at the time other credit unions were nationalized in 2013-2014.

The … Read the rest

How to make sure that no doctors will remain in Hungary?

The Hungarian government is in the process of launching a new healthcare reform. Pardon me, I almost forgot, the word “reform” is banned. In its place we should use “structural reconstruction,” “fine tuning,” or simply “implementations.” As usual, this latest “fine tuning” was not discussed with any of the people it will affect, the healthcare professionals.

As I was looking through my rather extensive database of Hungarian political news, I discovered that I already had a category called “healthcare reform.” That was in 2010-2011. The man who was supposed to … Read the rest

The man behind the Russian-Hungarian rapprochement: Ernő Keskeny

A few days ago a fascinating article appeared about the diplomatic impasse in which Viktor Orbán finds himself. It was written by Szabolcs Panyi of Index. Most of the information the journalist received seems to have come from disgruntled diplomats who either have already lost their jobs or fear that they will in the near future.

Earlier I wrote about the massive firings that took place last year. The first round of pink slips were handed out after the arrival of Tibor Navracsics as interim minister of foreign afffairs. The … Read the rest

Hungary’s modern Machiavelli: Gábor G. Fodor, the political thinker

At the moment I wouldn’t like to be in Viktor Orbán’s shoes. Let’s summarize briefly the troubles he has encountered in the last couple of weeks. First there was the less than successful visit of Angela Merkel, followed by his widely criticized meeting with Vladimir Putin in Budapest. His trip to Warsaw was a disaster. And then came yesterday’s stunning defeat in the Veszprém by-election, which caused such panic that today he called together the Fidesz presidium for an emergency meeting. In addition, nowadays criticism doesn’t come exclusively from the … Read the rest

The beginning of the end? Huge electoral victory in Veszprém

I must say that I was not very optimistic this morning about the chances of Zoltán Kész, the independent candidate in the first electoral district of Veszprém County. Early morning here in the eastern United States, when it was around noon in Hungary, it looked as if the turnout was very low by comparison to 2014. A low turnout usually benefits Fidesz because, at least until now, Fidesz could mobilize its voting base much more successfully than the left-of-center parties. I was disappointed and depressed, thinking: What has to happen … Read the rest