The story broke on July 28 when a brief news item appeared on the official website of the Hungarian police. The police discovered that since early in 2007 a research laboratory and a private hospital had been engaged in embryonic stem cell therapy (not research) that is illegal in Hungary. In fact, it was only in January 2009 that the first country–bizarrely enough, the United States that as a result of political proscriptions had lagged the rest of the world in stem cell research–cleared the way for embryonic stem cell therapy. Geron Corporation got permission from the … Read the rest
For a good month now the media have been full of reports about different ideas to reform the welfare system and to modify government support given as an entitlement to families for every child up to the age of twenty-one. The debate about child support is not new. SZDSZ has argued for a number of years that well-off families didn't need these monthly checks. SZDSZ highlighted two prominent politicians with large families: Viktor Orbán and Ferenc Gyurcsány. Orbán has five children; Gyurcsány, four. Surely, these two people don't need government handouts! MSZP was reluctant to change the current system. Socialist politicians … Read the rest
It was on June 17 that I wrote about a secret organization called Arrows of Hungarians Liberation Army whose members had committed a number of crimes threatening the lives and damaging the property of socialist and liberal politicians. Up to date nine people have been arrested. The investigation was praised by the authorities, and Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai only recently decorated a number of detectives for their outstanding work in connection with the case. During the investigation the detectives found a "bomb factory" in which some of the accused were assembling explosives that … Read the rest
I wrote about János Kádár and his legacy earlier this month in anticipation of the twentieth anniversary of his death on July 6, 1989. His funeral was not held until July 14 because George H. W. Bush was on an official visit to Budapest between July 11 and 13 and the trip, of course, had been arranged long before. The most recent (twenty-ninth) episode of MTV's series on the history of that fateful year– "Visszajátszás" (Playback)–dealt mostly with Kádár, his funeral, and of course the momentous trip to Hungary of the American president. The contemporary television … Read the rest
Viktor Orbán's philosophical inspiration most likely comes from a couple of local sources. I already mentioned his invocation of biblical quotations, undoubtedly supplied by Zoltán Balog, the Hungarian Reformed minister. His "political philosophy" probably owes a lot to András Lánczi, the author of Conservative Manifesto (2002). Lánczi's ideas are similar to the until recently fashionable neoconservatism but with a Hungarian twist. The basis of Lánczi's conservatisim is "morality." His favorite words are "order," "stability," "laws of nature," and "hierarchy." These words are echoed in Orbán's speeches and writings, though in their second life they are stripped of … Read the rest
Here and there one can still read in Hungarian papers about Előd Tóásó, one of the companions of Eduardo Rózsa-Flores currently awaiting trial in a Bolivian jail, but the intense interest in the alleged terrorist's past and eventual fate has subsided in the Hungarian media. However, in the last couple of days two articles appeared in Népszabadság (July 23 and July 24) about the alleged Bolivian-Hungarian terrorist Rózsa-Flores. The first was inspired by the utterances and writings of a Spanish newspaperman, Julio César Alonso, who came to know Rózsa-Flores in Tirana some fifteen years ago … Read the rest
Courage is a rare commodity in Hungary and perhaps not without reason. The one-party dictatorship, "soft" though it may have been, didn't exactly reward those who criticized the fundamentals of its so-called socialism. It was safer to be quiet, minding one's own business. The fear of repercussion is never too far from Hungarian thinking. Nor is repositioning oneself, preferably before a change in the political winds.
Now that a Fidesz victory seems almost certain, people are already thinking of the future. After all, the leaders of Fidesz said in no uncertain terms that a "just … Read the rest