Hungarians not only still have a good sense of humor but they also are learning the ways and means of democracy. Take the infamous referendum issue. The law states that only individuals, not parties, can put questions to the Országos Választási Bizottság (OVB, National Electoral Committee), but until now only people representing party or institutional interests took advantage of such an opportunity. However, now that our linguist presented his own questions (if you haven’t been reading this blog from the beginning, go back to the 7/11 post) and the OVB … Read the rest
For some time now the Hungarian equivalent of Internal Revenue Service (Adó- Pénzügyi Ellenőrzési Hivatal or APEH) has been waging war against tax evasion. Tax evasion exists everywhere in the world but–as Finance Minister János Veress said this morning at his press conference–while in other developed countries the black market constitutes about 5 percent of the GDP, in Hungary it is estimated to be 17-18 percent. Too few people pay too much tax, while too many people don’t pay anything or very little.
Given the large budget deficit and the … Read the rest
Because yesterday there was a demonstration on behalf of Katalin Kondor, former director of the Magyar Rádió and recently on the list of those staff members whose program was cut, I decided that I should get better acquainted with her and listen to some of her programs (available on the Magyar Rádió’s audio archives). A while back I almost had a real encounter with her on account of a letter to the editor I wrote in which I dared to correct her recollection of a short story she had read … Read the rest
It would be too long to tell the whole story of the ups and downs–mostly downs–of the Magyar Rádió. After 1990, the year of the change of regime, it took a long time, perhaps three to four years, to enact a media law that made possible the establishment of multiple, competing television and radio stations. Meanwhile there was the old state television and radio with the same left-wing staff. The conservative Antall government wasn’t happy with this situation, realizing that media support was very important for a political movement. Thus, … Read the rest
As I wrote earlier, on SZDSZ insistence a new committee has been formed to seek out and reveal the names of the thousands and thousands of informers active during the Kádár regime and even before. János Kenedi, the chairman of the committee and a well respected historian specializing in this area, believes that there may finally be the political will to make the names of the informers available. He would like to put the list on the internet. Surely, for some people, especially for the SZDSZ, this matter is critical. … Read the rest
In the next seven years Hungary will receive 22.4 billion euros (more than ten thousand billion forints) from the European Union. The idea is to close the gap between the rich and the poorer countries of the union. How this money will be used is of crucial importance. Such financial help can be used well and used badly. Ireland used the money very well while Greece, for example, used it very badly. The Hungarian government realizes the importance of decisions concerning the spending of the money and therefore worked out … Read the rest
In Hungary there is one centralized police force–until recently under the watchful eye of the minister of interior, nowadays under the minister of justice and security. A month or so ago there was a major personnel shakeup. The government fired the chief of police of the entire police force, László Bene, a surprisingly intellectual looking officer, and the chief of police of Budapest, a not so intellectual looking Péter Gergényi. The triggering event was the alleged rape of a young woman by policemen in the early morning in downtown Budapest. … Read the rest