Monthly Archives: April 2008

International trends and the Hungarian situation

Bill’s comment inspired me to write about the provincialism of large segments of Hungarian society. For these Hungarians at least three things stop at the border: physical movement, information, and the economy.

In spite of the relative ease with which Hungarians can cross western and northern borders, most people don’t travel abroad but spend their vacations in Hungary. And, of course, a lot of people, especially people in the villages, go nowhere. I have already talked about the poor language skills of Hungarians, which may explain some of the reluctance … Read the rest

The new Hungarian cabinet

One cannot say much about the six new ministers except that, in their photo flanking the prime minister, they are a singularly unattractive lot.  One is wearing a pair of slacks that seems to be about three inches longer than his legs. Another one stands with his legs at least a foot apart. However, it would be unfair to judge them by their looks or poses. What is a bit worrisome is that for the most part they are political unknowns. I’ve heard of three of them: one for a … Read the rest

Propaganda and persuasion: Hungarians look at themselves and Hungary

Lately two fascinating polls were taken. Both dealt with the question of how Hungarians perceive their own and the country’s economic situation and prospects. The results are, at least on the surface, baffling. Or perhaps not. Figyelő, a paper dealing mostly with economic issues, asked Szonda Ipsos to conduct a survey about Hungarians’ state of mind concerning the country’s economic situation and prospects. At the same time those questioned had to answer parallel questions about their own households. Let’s first see what people said about their family’s situation: 13% considered … Read the rest

The end of the Hungarian coalition

Today the SZDSZ Meeting of Delegates overwhelmingly voted to leave the coalition. There were 434 "yeas," 53 "nays," and 32 who abstained. Among the "nays" was Kálmán Kovács, Gábor Fodor’s undersecretary at the Ministry of the Environment. With this decision something entirely new came into being in Hungary: a minority government. And since it is new, most Hungarians don’t quite know what to do with it. The politically savvy keep saying that in other countries there have been minority governments for years and everything went along splendidly. Yeah, the skeptical … Read the rest

Goy Bikers and the press

No, I haven’t lost my mind. The members of this motorcycle gang call themselves Goy Bikers. If you ask them why, the answer is "because they like the name." Are they antisemitic? Oh, no, far from it. They are only "Christian and national." They also seem to be irredentists and consider themselves the successors to those Magyars who arrived in the Carpathian basin in the last years of the ninth century. Successors to those group of people who with their periodic raids kept the West fearful. Those "adventurers" were known … Read the rest

“The Night of the Long Bytes” Revisited

On February 20, 2008, I wrote about Zoltán Gubuznai who was Lajos Simicska’s right hand man as the computer wizard at the Hungarian Internal Revenue Service (APEH). When Simicska was named to head the office, the opposition cried foul. After all, Simicska was a close friend of Viktor Orbán, and he was heavily involved in rather shady financial affairs concerning companies owned by Fidesz. These companies were not successful and left behind substantial debt, including some unpaid taxes. The debts couldn’t be collected because, through the good offices of a … Read the rest

Another Magyar Nemzet fiasco

The latest Magyar Nemzet sensation didn’t even last a day. As suspected, the government was not spying on Viktor Orbán, Lajos Simicska, and István Kalmár in December 2002. But at least this time it was the Magyar Nemzet and not Viktor Orbán who goofed, or lied. Orbán was simply "not surprised." After all, with these communists anything is possible.

Magyar Nemzet decided to reveal some of its secrets, naming the person and the private detective agency who were involved. The man who ordered the "manhunt" was László Kapolyi, MSZP parliamentary … Read the rest