Monthly Archives: October 2007

Viktor Orbán, László Tőkés, and Transylvania

I rarely touch on the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries because I don’t know enough about them. Yes, I read the Hungarian media, but that is not enough for an analysis of the Hungarian minority situation in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

However, I feel compelled to say a few words about Transylvania. Hungarians represent about 7% of the Romanian population. In 1992 they numbered 1,624,959, and in 2002 1,431,807. Their birthrate is low and emigration to Hungary is high. Nonetheless, the Hungarian minority remains significant, with its own … Read the rest

Driving in Hungary

Today six Hungarian citizens lost their lives in highway accidents. Three in Austria and three in Hungary. A charter bus with forty-two young soccer fans was on its way home from Milan when around four o’clock in the morning the bus, apparently quite new and in good shape, went off the road and hit a guard rail. Three people are dead, and two were seriously injured: one broke his back and is paralyzed, and the other’s arm had to be amputated. Twenty-one others are injured but not seriously. Apparently, the … Read the rest

Modern political campaigns and databases

According to Hungarian law no party can inquire about a citizen’s political views and, an especially egregious offense, no one can amass a database. If for one reason or other one compiles a politically telltale list–any list–the data must be destroyed within a certain time. A few months.

There is the suspicion that the Fidesz has a database. The people who go from house to house, from apartment to apartment, write down names and make notations: friend or foe. People who lived in a dictatorship (however mild) don’t like this. … Read the rest

The state of the Hungarian liberal party (SZDSZ)

Let me be blunt: the SZDSZ is on life support, with their political "condition" somewhere between guarded and critical. According to the latest opinion poll (Tárki) only 1% of the electorate would vote for them.

Let’s review quickly the fortunes of the SZDSZ in the last seventeen years. In 1990 they received 23.8% of the votes. About 1 million people voted for the party.  Four years later the situation didn’t change dramatically: the number of votes cast remained about the same, but because of the fantastic showing of the MSZP … Read the rest

The Hungarian economic situation

Yesterday I said a little about the economic woes of the country; today I would like to give a few more details. I’m relying heavily on an article of Péter Róna that appeared in Népszava (October 26,2007). I mentioned that the problems began in 2001 when, because of the approaching elections, the Fidesz government decided to change course. Until then the government had followed a disciplined fiscal policy. But, in the hope of winning votes, they began to be irresponsibly generous. They doubled the minimum wage and gave out … Read the rest

The current Hungarian political situation and the Gyurcsány speech in Balatonőszöd

Today I think I should step back a bit in time and address the "infamous" speech Ferenc Gyurcsány made shortly after the election in the spring of 2006. This election ended with an MSZP-SZDSZ victory, a watershed in Hungary’s short democratic history. Previously, the electorate had never been satisfied with the work of the government in power; with great optimism it had always expected something "better" from an opposing party.

The fall of the MDF in 1994 was spectacular, and equally spectacular was the victory of the MSZP. The socialists … Read the rest

October 21-23: two men, two speeches; and political corruption in Hungary

By now, I have the text of both speeches. I saw Gyurcsány’s speech live on MTV and thought highly of it. Yesterday I tried to catch Orbán’s speech live, but HírTV was ailing. Since then HírTV’s internet service revived and I was able to watch the video. Anyone who knows the language and has half an hour can listen to it here: http://tinyurl.com/3x67vq. Two very different speeches, two very different politicians, two very different men. I must admit that I don’t consider a good speaker someone who for thirty … Read the rest