Monthly Archives: June 2008

Soccer and related topics

It doesn’t happen too often that I write about soccer because I must confess I have virtually no interest in the sport. I think that in my entire my life I witnessed only one soccer match–at the age of nine. I was visiting some relatives in Vasas (today part of Pécs) and there was this huge event in the life of the mining village: the Pécs soccer team came to play Vasas. It was held on an ordinary field, and the audience stood on the sidelines because there were no seats. Pécs won, everybody was cheering for … Read the rest

Gay parade: Trouble is already brewing in Hungary

Last year was the first time in Hungary that far-right groups attacked members of the gay festival held in early July, a day designated for the event worldwide. At that time I wasn’t terribly surprised because physical violence had became commonplace in Hungary ever since the fall of 2006. Initially the police managed to keep order and guard the safety of the participants. At that time (July 7, 2007) I wrote a piece praising the Hungarian police about a job well done. Two days later I had to change my mind: the police left the scene … Read the rest

Hungarians and traffic laws

Hungarian drivers are notorious: apparently you put your life on the line when you try to cross a street. Just lately there were several fatal accidents at pedestrian crossings. One was really terrible: a grandmother was pushing her grandchild in a stroller, and a car that refused to stop ran them down. Both died.

Then there are the horrific pictures in the newspapers. The bodies of the vehicles are twisted beyond recognition, and the cars sometimes land upside down. Often these are single-car accidents; the driver simply lost control. He was going at such a … Read the rest

Hungarian Spectrum’s first anniversary

It was exactly a year ago that I wrote my first blog. The topic was Hungarian agriculture; I described an interview with the minister of agriculture, József Gráf. Since then I have been pretty diligent. Altogether I wrote 331 pieces, and 33,143 people have visited the blog. I know traffic is modest, but nonetheless I’m pleased, especially since the beginnings were rocky. It takes time before the internet audience notices the new kid on the block.

I decided to start Hungarian Spectrum because I was dissatisfied with political information available in English about Hungary. Admittedly, … Read the rest

Hungarian economic tea leaves

I mentioned in one of my comments that Lajos Bokros only once prior to 2007 published his views on the Hungarian economy when he co-authored a long economic analysis. It appeared on April 28, 2006, in the midst of the 2006 election campaign. His co-authors were three reform-minded economists with close ties to SZDSZ: Tamás Bauer, István Csillag, minister in charge of economic affairs in the Medgyessy government, and Péter Mihályi, who was the architect of the ill-fated healthcare reform. Let’s review their analyses and prognoses.

First they announced in the … Read the rest

Lajos Bokros et al.

Economists are looked upon in Hungary as a fiercely independent group within the intellectual elite whose only guideline is strict professionalism. They are respected scholars, and whatever they say is the "truth." Apparently, according to Zsófia Mihancsik (in the last issue of Mozgó Világ, a monthly), this high esteem of economists goes back to the Kádár regime when at one point it seemed that the ills of the regime were not so much political as economic in nature. Even practicing journalists, admittedly without any economic background, look upon economists' words as holy … Read the rest

Half time: 2006-2008 (II)

As promised, let's review the Gyurcsány government's failures. First, there was the ill-fated plan to build a separate, modern government complex to which all the ministries would have moved. In theory, the idea was good. At the moment ministries are housed in old, inefficient buildings in downtown Pest. These buildings were not erected to house ministries or any kind of offices. Some of them were luxury apartments built in the late nineteenth century. Heating is very expensive because of the high ceilings. The rooms are too big for individual offices. Communication among ministries is cumbersome. By contrast, … Read the rest