Monthly Archives: January 2009

Political correctness in Hungary

Hungarians don't believe in political correctness. They think that it is just one of those crazy American ideas. Not only is political correctness a ridiculous concept, it is also a dishonest practice. Through it leading members of society, intellectuals, politicians, force their own standards on others. More than that, it constitutes censorship. After all, there is such a thing as freedom of speech and by forcing people not to say certain things people are being restricted. How ridiculous that in the United States a coach got into trouble because he said something "innocent" about black players. In … Read the rest

An analysis of the Hungarian radical right

I just read a provocative piece in Élet és Irodalom (ÉS) by a "political analyst" whose name was inadvertently omitted by the designers of the Internet edition. The unnamed author sets out to challenge the accepted view of Hungarian right-wing groups. I present his/her argument here not because I embrace it but because I think that here and there it could sharpen our discourse.

The right and even the extreme right likes to call the ideology of these groups "national radicalism"–that is, allegedly a mixture of bourgeois radicalism and a Hungarian version of the narodnik … Read the rest

Gyurcsány package?

Parliament met in extraordinary session, the prime minister spoke, and members of the Fidesz caucus didn't walk out. Gyurcsány made a forty-five-minute speech. Although we don't know the details of the plan, it seems that after consultation with leading economists, financiers, and businessmen, the government came up with a stimulus plan that aims to be revenue neutral. Two areas are off limits. First, the current structure of the pension plan will not change. Not only are oldsters an MSZP stronghold, but even in the population at large only about 10-15% of people surveyed suggested taking anything … Read the rest

Fidesz and the European Union

In the last two or three days the news has been full of two new Fidesz initiatives. The first was actually a warmed-up idea: to dissolve parliament and hold national elections on the same day that the country will vote on Hungarian delegates to the European Parliament. Fidesz had planned to introduce this proposal tomorrow, during an extraordinary session of parliament convened specifically to discuss the economic crisis. But it was moved forward: Tibor Navracsics announced the Fidesz proposal on the very day when half of Europe's leaders gathered in Budapest to discuss the question of … Read the rest

Sensationalism in Hungary

On January 24 MTV's evening news announced that five nine-year-old boys raped a girl of the same age. It happened sometime last fall in the city of Szeged. It was after school hours on a playground next to a children's elementary school. Children whose parents work often remain at school where they can do their homework for the next day or can play and do sports under the supervision of a teacher. At five or six o'clock the parents come and fetch them.

One could ask how it was possible that the teacher didn't notice something unusual on … Read the rest

Another economic gathering in Budapest and a surprising poll

Today there was another economic summit lasting four hours. If I remember correctly, this is the third giant gathering of politicians, businessmen, and representatives of employees that has taken place since mid-October 2008 as a result of the economic crisis. Critics of the government claim that these meetings are a colossal waste of time. Why doesn't the government just sit down and come up with a plan? For one thing, if the government did that, its critics would then complain about the government's "reform dictatorship." One must keep in mind that the word "refom" has a very bad … Read the rest

A new Bokros “package”: Not likely

Lajos Bokros is one of the leading economists in Hungary. He was minister of finance from March 1, 1995, to February 29, 1996, when he resigned. Apparently he had threatened to resign before; every time his advice was not taken his inclination was to step down. Just to give an idea of his mercurial temperament: in 1990 it took him only two months as a member of parliament to be fed up with politics. He resigned.

A brief summary of his career: He was born in Budapest in 1954. He studied at the Karl Marx … Read the rest