Monthly Archives: March 2009

What we know about the current Hungarian situation

In a way I would prefer to continue my short biography of Ferenc Gyurcsány. But I have the feeling that my readers would prefer to hear about current events and short-term predictions rather than the 1980s and Gyurcsány's student years in Pécs. (I'll return to that on a slow news day.)

I'm trying to avoid passing along every rumor that reaches the ears of a third-rate reporter and then is sold as hot news. Most of these stories sound unlikely if not outright unbelievable. The reporters also seem to have a penchant for trying to … Read the rest

The end of political chaos or just a brief respite?

I stopped writing about daily events in Hungary because it was impossible to construct a coherent story. I think I left off at the point that György Surányi, the leading candidate for prime minister, withdrew his name from consideration and SZDSZ suggested Lajos Bokros for the post. In fact, they more than suggested; they announced that it was Bokros or nobody. Bokros appeared eager enough and he apparently confirmed his interest to the SZDSZ politicians who suggested his name. By that time MSZP was desperate enough to accept Bokros as long as SZDSZ would be a willing partner in the new … Read the rest

The rise and fall of Ferenc Gyurcsány, Part I

His rise was rapid and the fall even swifter. Not only did he propose that he be replaced as prime minister but, despite an 85% vote of confidence from the party, he resigned as head of MSZP. Whether this is only a temporary fall we don't know yet. After all, there are many famous politicians who failed only to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.

In this installment I trace Gyurcsány's background and his early life, looking for clues to his fall. I am indebted to József Debreczeni's Az új miniszterelnök (Budapest: … Read the rest

Political chaos in Hungary

I wasn't sure whether I should write anything today because I can't make heads or tails out of what's going on in Hungary. Surányi says he doesn't want the job. So more scrambling. One wakes up to the name of János Takács as the newest MSZP suggestion for prime minister. I had never heard of him. He turned out to be the CEO of Electrolux Hungary. His name surfaced only to be dropped within a couple of hours: SZDSZ wants no part of János Takács. SZDSZ, although earlier its leaders emphasized that MSZP should nominate … Read the rest

Fact and fiction: A Canadian perspective

Last night someone called my attention to a piece that appeared in Canada's National Post (March 25) entitled "Democracy, Hungarian Style." The author, George Jonas, is a regular columnist of the paper and the author of several books, the most famous of which is Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team (1984) on which two films were based–Sword of Gideon (a TV film, 1986) and Munich (a feature film, 2005). In addition he wrote a play and two operas.

Jonas was born in Budapest in 1935 and therefore was already … Read the rest

“New York Perspective”

This is the title of an article by József Debreczeni in today's Népszava. The author complains about the coverage of Hungarian politics by The New York Times and The Washington Post. I will return to the article a bit later, but first I would like to talk about the American media and Hungary in general terms. Yesterday a radio station (Rádió Café) asked me to say a few words about the American media reaction to the current Hungarian political crisis. I was on during the second half of the one-hour program … Read the rest

One possible prime minister: György Surányi

Yesterday Medián published the results of its poll on the Hungarian public's reaction to Ferenc Gyurcsány's resolve to ask for a constructive motion of no confidence against himself. As part of the survey Medián asked about possible successors to Gyurcsány. Lajos Bokros's name is the best known. Eighty-seven percent of the people know who he is. Péter Kiss, minister in charge of the prime minister's office, is next in line with 71% followed by László Békesi, finance minister in 1994, and Gordon Bajnai, minister in charge of the economy in the present government, each with … Read the rest