Monthly Archives: February 2009

Hungarian education: Back to state schools?

Let's face it, Hungarian education is in shambles. There are too many colleges and universities. Because there is no tuition for about half of the students and because there are no strict limits within which a student must complete requirements for a bachelor's program, a lot of students look upon higher education as a pleasant way to spend six years or so doing practically nothing. When it comes to elementary education, most of the village schools with only a handful of students are not only very expensive to maintain but also of … Read the rest

Ferenc Gyurcsány swings into action

It is almost inevitable that when there is really big trouble, Gyurcsány's adrenalin surges.This was the situation in late 2005 and early 2006 when MSZP trailed far behind Fidesz and Gyurcsány launched an incredible campaign to sell MSZP and his program. Miracle of miracles the MSZP-SZDSZ coalition won the elections. In the process he even managed to rally the normally apathetic MSZP troops: for instance, a huge spirited crowd gathered at an outdoor meeting and enthusiastically sang the catchy campaign song.

A similar burst of energy can be observed in the last few weeks, especially … Read the rest

Economic Cacophony in Hungary?

At least according to Tibor Erdős that's what's going on right now in Hungary. One doesn't hear as much from Tibor Erdős as, let's say, from Lajos Bokros or László Békesi. Most likely one reason is his age. He was born in 1928. But the few times he speaks or writes it is worth listening to him.

Uncharacteristically, he wrote two articles that appeared in quick succession in Népszava. The first on February 19 with the telling title "Cacophony" (Hangzavar) and the second on February 26 ("Four serious problems"). In both Erdős tries to shed light on the complexity … Read the rest

Crimes against Gypsies: 2008-2009

Népszabadság published a list of crimes committed against Gypsies in the last year or so. They mentioned 12 incidents but according to Viktória Mohácsi, Roma activist and SZDSZ member of the European parliament, the number is higher–16 or 17. In defense of the paper, it was not trying to come up with a definitive number; rather, it was summarizing those cases the paper had previously reported on. And I will summarize even more briefly.

The first incident occurred on January 22, 2008, in Szigetvár when five punks from Barcs attacked a Gypsy … Read the rest

Two new victims in yet another attack against a Gypsy family

Two Gypsies, a man and his four-year-old son, are dead. They were victims of fatal gunshot wounds received while fleeing their house that had been torched.

They lived in Tatárszentgyörgy (Pest County), a village with a population of about 1,800. Because there are no ethnic statistics I don't know how many of these people are Roma. I assume a fair number because this is not the first time that I encountered Tatárszentgyörgy in the Hungarian media. In December 2007 the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda), formed a few months earlier, decided to have a demonstration … Read the rest

“Fidesz has a substantive program for solving the crisis”

That is what Viktor Orbán said today. However, Gábor Kuncze, former head of SZDSZ and nowadays a "radio reporter," appeared on an MTV program called "A szólás szabadsága" (Freedom of Speech). The conversation focused on Kuncze's interviews of leaders of the parliamentary caucuses, among them, of course, Tibor Navracsics of Fidesz. Kuncze related that in this interview he wanted to ask Navracsics about the "program" Fidesz keeps secret. He was expecting the usual answer: either "go to our website and read our program entitled 'Erős Magyarországért'"  (For a Strong Hungary) or "we have … Read the rest

The Hungarian Reform Alliance: ideas of capitalists and economists

It was at the end of November, 2008, that a new organization came into being: the Reform Alliance. It consisted of nine representatives of business associations, the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the present and past presidents of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the former presidents of the Hungarian National Bank, and ministers of finance and economic development prior to 2002.

Considering that the Reform Alliance's suggestions had to have solid economic grounding, a slew of economists were invited to work on the project. Publicly only four names are known: László Békesi, briefly minister … Read the rest