Monthly Archives: October 2009

Hungary’s prosperity index: The Legatum Institute’s findings

The first time I heard about the institute and its prosperity index was in an opinion piece by György Bolgár. I immediately went to the original source, the web site of the Legatum Institute. I found the study fascinating. Legatum defines prosperity as both material wealth and spiritual well being. So the world's most prosperous nations have both a sound economy and happy, healthy, free citizens. The Index studied the situation in 104 different countries that comprise 90% of the world's population. The Index is subdivided into nine sub-indexes: economic fundamentals (meaning a growing sound economy), entrepreneurship … Read the rest

Ferenc Gyurcsány is back: The Hungarian socialists receive a boost

Ferenc Gyurcsány, the former prime minister, after about half a year of silence has returned. And he is his old fiery self. An excellent and inspiring speaker. His reception by the party faithful at a public assembly of the Hungarian socialists was most enthusiastic even before he opened his mouth. Frenetic applause before and after. And he deserved every bit of it because he brought back a glimmer of hope that perhaps not everything is lost. Or at least this was the message he came with.

He asked his audience not … Read the rest

The growth of the extreme right in Hungary

There is no question that the most burning issue in current Hungarian political life is the spectacular growth of the extreme right. Political Capital, one of those "independent" think-tanks József Debreczeni wrote about the other day, published a study in Hírszerző dealing with the "causes of the growth of the extreme right."

The authors mention five possible causes: (1) strengthening of a critical attitude toward the regime itself, (2) a shift toward the right in general, (3) growth of belief in a more authoritarian regime, (4) lack of trust in politicians, and (5) growth of societal antagonism.

As … Read the rest

“Democratic humbug”: A critique of Hungarian “political scientists”

Today I look at a highly charged criticism of Hungarian "political scientists" by József Debreczeni, one of my favorite political writers. For months I hadn't seen or heared of him and I felt deprived. It was only a week ago that he showed up again on "A tét" (The Stake) on ATV. It turned out that he was busy writing a book on Viktor Orbán. A second one. The first came out in 2002, shortly after Orbán lost the elections. The first book wasn't uncritical, but since then Debreczeni's opinion of Orbán has changed so … Read the rest

Language of hatred: The voice of the Hungarian right

Tamás Bauer, former SZDSZ member of parliament, political analyst, and professor of economics, last week on the ATV program "A tét" (The stake) said something memorable and very true. He told the audience that in fact he feels sorry for Oszkár Molnár, Fidesz member of parliament and mayor of Edelény, because he most likely doesn't even realize that what he says about Jews, Gypsies, and gays is unacceptable in the civilized world. After all, Bauer continued, this is what he hears day in and day out in the right-wing media–Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Demokrata, Read the rest

Hungarian lament by S.K.

My post last week has elicited quite a few rebukes.

The general tenor of criticism was, on the one hand, that the situation is not grave enough to justify my assessment, and on the other, by being as tough as I was, I am actually stooping to the same level as my mark, Fidesz.

Well, fair enough, if it engendered such reaction in my critics, the posting was probably more radical than was expected based on the facts.

I am not prepared however to accept the criticism yet without explaining … Read the rest

A recent debate: What did the Hungarians want in 1956?

Open debate, sometimes going on for weeks on end, was a favorite pastime of scholars in the Kádár regime. Because political debate was out of the question, the practitioners of the genre often went to great lengths to debate some minute point of literary analysis or some historical fact. Someone not long ago called these discussions pseudo-debates. Debates about nothing or at least not about important things. This way one could pretend that there was a lively intellectual life in a country where important issues couldn't be discussed. One could certainly … Read the rest