Monthly Archives: August 2008

SZDSZ says no, but for how long?

I have to admit that I didn't expect such a categorical rejection by SZDSZ of Ferenc Gyurcsány's "nice little essay," praised by economists as a step in the right direction. I expected SZDSZ to say that the government ought to reduce expenses and not rely solely on the hope that more taxes would be collected in the future. I also expected them to offer to negotiate, to see whether some compromise could be reached. But this is not what happened.

After the top brass of SZDSZ spent two days closeted in Dunaújváros, the new party chief … Read the rest

The latest blemish on the Hungarian judicial system

On August 27 came the news that the legal proceedings against the Hungarian Guard that were supposed to continue on Monday, September 1, will be postponed because the judge recused herself and her request to step down from the case was granted by her superior, the head of the Civil Division (Polgári Kollégium) at the Budapest Court. Let me give the exact legal definition of "recusation" as it appears in Black's Law Dictionary. "In the civil law, a species of exception or plea to the jurisdiction, to the effect that the particular judge … Read the rest

Back to school in Hungary

On September 1 Hungarian children are returning to school, and the press is full of complaints about the financial burden this places on the family. Before I go into some of the details of what Hungarian schools demand, a sidenote and a personal hobby horse. In Hungary the educational establishment, specifically the ministry of education, still hasn't figured out that it would be much cheaper for the parents if the schools or school districts, similarly to the practice here, purchased textbooks and lent them to the children for the year. If a … Read the rest

“A nice little essay”

This is what an economist and former minister of finance, Mihály Kupa, called Ferenc Gyurcsány's piece entitled "Compact." Why compact? Because, as Gyurcsány explains, what is at the core of Hungary's current problems cannot be remedied by a simple tax cut. The whole political and social culture of Hungary must change. And for that there must be understanding, cooperation, and agreement between the government and the country's citizens.

This is of course nothing new in Gyurcsány's political messages. Ever since he became prime minister he has kept repeating that people's attitudes must change. Some people I know who … Read the rest

Full speed ahead

The summer doldrums are over, and fall (I don't know why I always equate it with the start of a new school year rather than the official date on the calendar) promises to be especially envigorating. Gyurcsány, whom I at one point compared to Nicholas Sarkozy, has incredible energy. Especially after a couple of weeks of vacation.

In the morning the minister of education and culture, István Hiller, in the presence of the prime minister announced a six-year program to refurbish schools that sorely need fixing up. A quarter of all schools were built … Read the rest

The end of the “silly season”

The second half of the summer is called the "silly season" in Anglo-Saxon countries because the media, given the usual dearth of political news, come up with silly stories to fill their pages or their time slot. In Hungarian (as in such languages as Dutch, Norwegian, and Polish) it is called the "cucumber season" (uborkaszezon).  After all, lots of cucumbers grow during this time.

So the "silly season" or "cucumber season" is rather on the boring side if one is interested in politics. A Hungarian political scientist friend of mine wrote the other day that … Read the rest

The Doctrine of the Holy Crown

If one looks at some of the Internet sites in search of the Doctrine of the Holy Crown they seem to be written mostly by people who are perhaps a bit too close to the idea itself and hence all start with the same story. According to popular tradition during the coronation ceremony Stephen held up the crown to offer it to the Virgin Mary in order to seal a divine contract between her and the crown. According to this version the Hungarian crown was not only holy but from the beginning it was the … Read the rest