Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Hungarian Socialist Party and Ferenc Gyurcsány

As far as I can see, the conflict over the future of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) between the current leadership and Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister and one time party chairman, is coming to a head. It has been obvious for a while that in Gyurcsány's opinion an effective opposition to the present government must be based on a wide coalition of democratic forces that would include not only the socialists but also the liberals currently without a party, the moderate conservatives for whom Viktor Orbán's populism is distasteful, … Read the rest

The Hungarian Academy and its institutes

The attack on the philosophers has been going on ever since January 8 when Magyar Nemzet claimed that "Heller and Co. researched away half a billion forints." The "political commentators" whom I would rather call "political hacks," with some help from the named philosophers' professional adversaries, showed such ignorance of the world of academe that it really boggles the mind. It soon became quite obvious that the newspapermen writing article after article have not the foggiest idea about what grants and grant applications are all about. I'm trying to imagine … Read the rest

A new opinion poll about the media law

Those observers who claimed that the average Hungarian cares only about his pocketbook are wrong again. According to the latest opinion poll by Medián, only a minority of Hungarians support the media law in its present form.

Although most Hungarians by now are so sick and tired of politics that they barely follow the news, if at all, 88% of people asked had heard about the law and the controversy surrounding it. First and foremost, the pollsters wanted to know what the subjects knew about the specifics of the law … Read the rest

Hungarian foreign policy in the wake of World War I

The war was lost but Hungary became independent. Yet even Mihály Károlyi, who was after all the head of the Party of Independence, admitted in his memoirs written in the early 1920s that they were somewhat shortsighted when they rejoiced over the collapse of the dual monarchy and greeted the severance of ties with Austria with great enthusiasm. Even before Austria became a republic, Hungary considered itself to be an independent state; in early November the Hungarian government began establishing its own foreign ministry.

The rejoicing didn't last long. Foreign … Read the rest

The road to Trianon, 1848-1918

A professor of mine once told me that his worst lectures were on topics he knew most about. He got lost in the details. He gave his most successful lectures when, as a young assistant professor, he was assigned to teach European history from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1945! That's by way of a caveat. I'm afraid that I will be less than lucid because I know too much about this period, but I'll try my best. 

The multi-national character of the Kingdom of Hungary didn't pose serious … Read the rest

Council of Europe: Debate on the functioning of democracy in Hungary

The discussion just ended. One could follow it live on the Internet at the website of the Council of Europe. I assume that eventually the debate in the Parliamentary Assembly will also be available on video.

Let me jot down my first impressions. First and foremost, I would be most surprised if Björn von Sydow, a Swedish socialist member of the Parliamentary Assembly, were right that the Council of Europe would initiate a "monitoring procedure" against Hungary because of human rights violations. Most of the speakers took the Orbán … Read the rest