Monthly Archives: November 2010

The latest blow to freedom of the press

I have written a lot about the media law since June 18 ("Proposed law on the media"). In August alone I wrote three pieces, the last on the new council that was created to be the watchdog over the media and whose members were suggested by Viktor Orbán and duly voted in by the two-thirds majority. They speedily took the oath of office. Fidesz took care of the supervision of the media as well. At the top of the apex is the prime minister, then follows Annamária Szalai, who is truly one of the least … Read the rest

Two verbal duels: Gyurcsány versus Orbán and European Commission versus Matolcsy

Quite a day. I must say that I was looking forward to it because I knew that Viktor Orbán could no longer refuse to answer Ferenc Gyurcsány in Parliament. Parliamentary rules stipulate that if an MP insists on an answer from the addressed government official he/she must do so within three weeks. It was three weeks ago that Ferenc Gyurcsány expressed his desire to address the prime minister. His brief interpellation bore the title: "What are you afraid of, Mr. Prime Minister?"

Gyurcsány began: "I would like you ask about freedom and … Read the rest

Poland and Hungary

It seemed that wherever I turned today the comparison of Orbán's Hungary to the Kaczyński brothers' Poland cropped up. First I looked at The New York Times where there was a fascinating article about Poland that reminded me very much of the Hungarian situation. The title says it all: "Poland, Lacking External Enemies, Turns on Itself." Although Poles have every reason to celebrate their success–for example, Poland is the only country in Europe that managed to avoid a recession during the financial crisis–they feel insecure and pessimistic, and in their confused … Read the rest

Socialist revival in Hungary?

It’s too early to tell how successful the battered MSZP’s efforts to regain its popularity and its electoral support will be, but the beginnings turned out a great deal better than I expected.

When I heard two or three weeks ago that MSZP isn’t officially supporting the demonstration of the Hungarian Democratic Charta and Ferenc Gyurcsány’s new Democratic Coalition but instead will hold a mass meeting on November 27, I really thought it was going to be a flop. How on earth can you organize a meeting protesting the government’s … Read the rest

Péter Polt will again be the supreme prosecutor

Before you read this post I highly recommend that you get acquainted with Péter Polt, who was the supreme prosecutor between 2000 and 2006. I wrote about him at length a year ago. Polt was a Fidesz party hack with practically no prosecutorial experience. He turned out to be an excellent appointment from Fidesz's point of view because after the party lost the elections in 2002 Polt was pivotal in preventing any investigation of the Orbán government's corruption and the alleged criminal cases linked to the government. For weeks now there has been … Read the rest

The immediate results of the “nationalization” of private pension funds

Of course, it is more than a “nationalization” of private property. It is an illegal expropriation of private property. Some commentators compared the government’s methods to those of the mafia. Others called Orbán’s Hungary a banana republic. Some people talked about a nightmarish move or a hair-raising event. And then there is the blackmail the government is employing to make sure that all participants in the pension funds agree to the transfer. How can they not when otherwise they will be deprived of 75% of the future pensions they are … Read the rest

The end of the rule of law in Hungary

We can no longer speak of democracy in Hungary. I'm not exaggerating. In fact, reading through some of my earlier posts about what I expected if Viktor Orbán wins the elections, I realize that I was too optimistic. Not in my wildest imagination could I have predicted what has been happening in the last few months. The rapid passage of bills submitted by individual members and thus not requiring any preparation or public discussion was followed by filling all the so-called independent posts with Fidesz  men. The government's accounting activities are supervised by a party … Read the rest