Monthly Archives: November 2008

The fate of a hate crime in a Hungarian court

The verdict was handed down by the Court of the City of Pécs. As far as I can figure out these city courts are at the bottom of the judicial hierarchy. The verdict is as surprising as the location because in the County of Baranya there are five city courts, including one in Szigetvár where the crime was actually committed. The background is as follows. On January 22 five young guys from Barcs after drinking quite a bit got it into their heads that they would like to take a … Read the rest

A new murder and a new anti-Gypsy demonstration

On Monday, November 24, the first reports appeared in the Hungarian media about the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl named Nóra in the village of Kiskunlacháza in Pest County. The body was found in a wooded area on Sunday night. Slowly more information came to light. First about the possibility of rape prior to the murder. Then a day later papers reported that the girl attended school in Szigetszentmiklós where by November 25 they raised a black flag at the István Kardos General Middle School (Általános Középiskola). Nóra had a home page on which she claimed that "Dance is My Life." Perhaps … Read the rest

Hungary’s place in Eastern Europe

Even in the Kádár period Hungary had a few truly outstanding historians. One of these was György Ránki whose works on modern Hungarian and East European economic history, co-authored with Iván Berend, were groundbreaking. György Ránki is unfortunately no longer with us, but Iván Berend has been teaching history for the last fifteen years or so in California. Ránki himself spent years at Indiana University.

Anyway, Ránki said something that I find very true: "Europe is sloping downward from west to east." This is true in economic terms and consequently influences all facets … Read the rest

Hate-speech: the fourth round

This is the fourth time that the socialist and liberal members of parliament have tried to do something about the ever-growing  spread of linguistic abuse of certain groups. The favorite targets are the usual suspects: Gypsies, Jews, and gays. The linguistic abuses are not mild. At soccer games between the Fradi (Ferencváros) and MTK (a team formerly with lots of Jewish players) the Fradi fans keep chanting: "The trains are going to Auschwitz." Or at liberal demonstrations the extreme right wingers "send the Jews into the Danube" just like in the winter of 1944 … Read the rest

Political odds and ends after the Hungarian budget debate

This blog will be something of a hodgepodge because today's news consisted of a series of sound bites that by themselves don't deserve deep analysis. Or perhaps it would be better to say that I don't know yet whether they have any significance. The first piece of news that grabbed my attention this morning was that the liberals who yesterday said that they had decided to vote for the budget for patriotic reasons by today were somewhat sore and acted as if they were not very happy with the outcome. I guess one reason for their … Read the rest

A good day for MSZP and the government

This morning the government cleared the first hurdle before the final acceptance of the budget. Parliament voted on important figures and details, and the minority government had no problems whatsoever. It was already clear yesterday that the entire SZDSZ parliamentary delegation would vote in favor of the budget, and therefore not much excitement accompanied the three-hour-long vote. The procedure took that long because Fidesz insisted on voting openly, by name. One by one. There were 210 yeas and only 168 nays. Actually the SZDSZ votes weren't even necessary because seven members of the opposition were … Read the rest

Orbán’s mistakes?

Some people think that Viktor Orbán has made an awful lot of political mistakes lately. It was a mistake not to make conciliatory gestures at the National Summit, not to show up at a high-level meeting of politicians and experts on the economic crisis, not to take an active part in the hustle and bustle of everyday politics. He stayed aloof and sent emissaries to meetings.

A few days ago he decided to speak up. However, according to analysts, it would have been better if he had kept his own counsel. Here is an … Read the rest