Monthly Archives: March 2008

Coalition crisis?

It seems that there is, or at least appears to be, a crisis: SZDSZ is mighty sore. They took offence at Ferenc Gyurcsány’s announcement of his intention to dismiss Ágnes Horváth as minister of health. Ágnes Horváth, who is not even an SZDSZ party member, was nonetheless the party’s choice for the post. Poor Horváth in her thirties became the most hated politician in the country although she did nothing else but execute, for better or worse, the government program. So basically she is the sacrificial lamb of a failed … Read the rest

Fidesz birthday bash: Twenty years

It was on March 30, 1988, that a group of university students established a youth organization (Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége/Association of Young Democrats) independent of the sanctioned KISZ (Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség). The founding members numbered thirty-seven, and most of them lived in a residential college later named after István Bibó (1911-1977), one of the most original political thinkers of modern Hungary. For Fidesz’s twentieth anniversary the founders, by now with their growing families, gathered in their former residential college to cut the giant birthday cake. And, of course, some of them … Read the rest

Soul searching in the MSZP

Yesterday and today were important in the life of the Magyar Szocialista Párt. Yesterday the presidium got together and spent six hours analyzing the political situation caused by the combined effects of the austerity program, a stagnant economy, and the devastating results of the Fidesz-inspired referendum on co-payment, hospital fees, and tuition. Although there are some in the socialist party who became weak-kneed and would give up the reform altogether, the more intelligent among the leadership know that the structural reforms cannot be postponed.

So after the gathering of the … Read the rest

A short article in The Economist

Rarely does the English language press spend much time on Hungary. So Hungarian journalists and politicians tend to give undue weight to anything written about the country in reputable English language newspapers and magazines. If in a long article about some shady arms deal to Afghanistan appears in The New York Times in which Hungary is mentioned along with practically all other Eastern European countries, at least two dozen articles appear on the subject and the prime minister launches an investigation. Yesterday Hungary was singled out for criticism in a … Read the rest

Violence in Hungarian schools

In this new world of cell phones capable of taking videos and upload sites like YouTube, nothing can be kept secret for long. A few days ago a sixteen-year-old boy (grade nine) was seen attacking a quasi-geriatric male teacher. He kicked him, picked up a dangerous-looking instrument, and made threatening moves toward the man who was frightened and obviously disoriented. The class cheered their hero on, obviously enjoying the scene. The incident happened in Budapest’s District VIII where most people of Roma origin live. Of course, one wonders how it … Read the rest

What’s going on in SZDSZ?

Maybe I’m being influenced by Bálint Magyar, one of the founders of SZDSZ, whom I heard twice today on the SZDSZ election crisis, but I’m getting increasingly suspicious. Somehow I can’t get it out of my head that this whole controversy, given its timing and circumstances, has links to the largest opposition party. This would not be the first time that Viktor Orbán managed to get rid of a party that was not exactly to his liking. In 2001 it was his own coalition partner who became a burden. This … Read the rest

The importance of the Constitutional Court

I always had the distinct feeling that Hungarian political parties, especially the MSZP, didn’t realize the importance of this new institution. After all, between 1867 and 1944 the court system was organized in a four-tiered hierarchy at the top of which stood the kúria (Supreme Court), the highest court in the land. In 1950, after the communist takeover, this system was abolished. Although the járás (a unit smaller than a county) remained for a while, at least in name, the courts serving these geographical areas were abolished. The kúria was … Read the rest