Monthly Archives: October 2008

A new poll in Hungary

Today I will be brief because occasionally I have other mundane duties. For example, grocery shopping. I also had to buy some gasoline for the lawn mower and am happy to report that the price of a gallon of gasoline was $2.55. Quite a change from a few weeks ago. In Hungary the price of gasoline also went down, but because of the weakening of the forint and the strengthening of the dollar Hungarians will not notice as drastic a drop as we do here.

Népszabadság often asks Medián to conduct polls … Read the rest

The IMF and ECB loans and Hungarian politics

The first surprise was the size of the package: twenty billion euros. The initial guess that appeared in Forbes magazine was about half that amount.  Apparently each country has an IMF quota, and twenty billion euros is ten times that of Hungary's. Naturally the two political sides in Budapest interpret the generous loan offer entirely differently. The government claims that receiving a line of credit of this magnitude shows the lending insitutions' trust in the country. Fidesz emphasizes how serious Hungary's economic and fiscal difficulties are if the IMF and ECB feel compelled to offer that much money. For good … Read the rest

The moderate Fidesz weekly: Heti Válasz

The beginnings of Heti Válasz  were not exactly glorious. The Orbán government made every effort to establish a series of newspapers, weeklies, and radio stations committed to Fidesz and espousing its right-wing ideology. While most of the papers and electronic media were purchased by well-heeled Fidesz sympathizers with perhaps a small infusion of Fidesz money, Heti Válasz was financed solely by the government. That is, the taxpayers' money. First, the government gave a generous grant, perhaps even a billion forints, to a foundation that in turn established the weekly. The problem … Read the rest

The Hungarian “umbrella package”

In 1995 we had the "Bokros package," named after the newly appointed minister of finance, Lajos Bokros. The prime minister at the time, Gyula Horn, was most reluctant to introduce the absolutely unavoidable austerity program that meant a drop in real wages of about 17%. The "Bokros package," although painful in the short run, resulted in healthy economic growth from 1997 until about 2000 when the Orbán government started the usual irresponsible spending because of the approaching elections. Although the government spent a lot of money trying to buy votes, Viktor Orbán and his … Read the rest

Ottokár Prohászka and antisemitism

There is a new controversy surrounding the unveiling of a bust of Ottokár Prohászka (1858-1927), bishop of Székesfehérvár between 1905 and his death. Or rather it wasn't so much the unveiling of the bust that ruffled liberal nerves but the speeches delivered on the occasion by two Fidesz parliamentary  members, Sándor Lezsák and Zoltán Balog.

Let me introduce the cast of characters. First and foremost the controversial bishop. As one can easily detect, Prohászka's fervent Hungarian patriotism didn't have much to do with his lineage. His father still spelled his name in its … Read the rest

A glimpse into the past: the presiding judge at the Imre Nagy trial

Around national holidays it is customary to air programs that shed light on the significance of the date. October 23 is no exception, and in the last few days we had an opportunity to listen to interviews with historians and participants in those events 52 years ago. There was an interview with the granddaughter of Imre Nagy, with the son of László Rajk who was executed on trumped-up charges in 1949, and with Imre Mécs, currently a member of parliament who was originally condemned to death but whose sentence was on appeal changed to life … Read the rest

After the national holiday

Poor October 23, 1956. For thirty-three years one couldn't even talk about the events of those thirteen days that shook the Kremlin, to borrow the title of Tibor Meray's book about Imre Nagy and the revolution published in 1959. In fact, the silence of those years was deafening. It was not without reason that Péter György, a literary historian, called his book about the afterlife of the revolution during the Kádár regime Néma hagyomány (2000) [Silent heritage]. Only this morning Imre Mécs, one of the student leaders of the revolution and today … Read the rest