Monthly Archives: February 2008

All those streams of natural gas

Well, I think I have more or less managed to sort out the "streams"–that is, the pipelines by which Gazprom provides Europe with natural gas. The first Russian pipeline, built quite a few years ago, was the Friendship Pipeline. That line went through Kursk, continued through Ukraine just south of Kiev, and reached Uzhgorod at the Ukrainian-Slovak border. After going through Slovakia it reached Vienna and points farther west. Hungary received its gas from this main pipeline via a branch line from the Slovak-Ukrainian-Hungarian border. The Friendship pipeline delivers about … Read the rest

The “New Ownership Program”

Slowly more and more information about the "New Ownership Program" (in Hungarian: Új Tulajdonos Program [ÚTP]) is coming to light, though the full public discussion will take place only in March and April. First of all, the estimated value of all the state-owned entrepreneurial companies is about 1,500-2,000 billion forints.  Among them, of course, are real duds, such as MÁV. However, there are a few highly profitable companies: Magyar Villamos Művek (Hungarian Electric Works), Szerencsejáték (Hungarian Lotto), Állami Autópálya-kezelő (responsible for toll roads), and even Magyar Posta (Hungarian Postal Service). … Read the rest

New economic ideas

It seems to me that Ferenc Gyurcsány is in his best form when he or his party or both are in the deepest trouble. In such cases he comes up with some excellent ideas. This time is no exception. It was only a couple of weeks ago that he announced the government’s plans concerning state-owned properties which he called "New Owners’ Program." The initial interest in purchasing shares in these companies is quite promising. Yesterday he gave another speech, this time at the Academy, in which he outlined the government’s … Read the rest

Bribe for Gypsy votes?

Never a dull moment. The latest is, as it turned out, a hoax concocted by an "enterprising" reporter of HírTV. HírTV doesn’t even pretend to be anything else but the mouthpiece of Fidesz. But why would a reporter of this television station feel compelled to do something that is clearly criminal?

The story began a few days ago when István Tarlós, the independent leader of the Fidesz caucus in the Budapest City Council and Orbán’s choice to head the Fidesz referendum campaign, announced in one of the many interviews he … Read the rest

Railway strikes are getting shorter and shorter

I must admit that I was surprised yesterday afternoon when I heard that István Gaskó, trade union leader of the VDSzSz, had embarked on yet another railway strike.The strike began at midnight on Sunday and was, according to Gaskó, to be of indefinite duration. In this case "indefinite" meant "really short."

I woke Monday morning to the news that the strike was over; it had ended at 9:00 a.m. At 6:00 a.m. Gaskó still seemed very sure of himself when he was the guest on Napkelte. What happened in between? … Read the rest

Thoughts about the referendum

Yesterday I quoted a first-rate opinion piece about pseudo axioms. In it, among other things, the author, Kornélia Magyar, stated with great conviction that the referendum would be a sweeping victory for Viktor Orbán and his party. There are others who think differently. Perhaps even Viktor Orbán himself. After some delay I managed to watch a fairly lengthy interview with Orbán on MTV’s "A szólás szabadsága" (Freedom of Speech), a weekly political program on Sunday nights. György Baló, who was a bit braver than usual, asked a few uncomfortable questions … Read the rest

“In the captivity of pseudo axioms”

This is the title of an excellent political commentary by Kornélia Magyar that appeared in the February 23 issue of Népszabadság. This is the first time I have encountered her name or the institute she works for: Progresszív Intézet (Progressive Institute). After a little research I found out that this institute is part of DEMOS Hungary, a political think tank belonging to the DEMOS family of institutes whose main concern is public policy research. It is also an advocacy group. The Hungarian DEMOS was the brainchild of Tibor Dessewffy, a … Read the rest