Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hungary and the paradox of the charlatan. Part III by S.K.

Just as I was about to commit to paper this long planned last part of my essay, Ferenc Gyurcsány came to my aid two days ago with his summary of Viktor Orbán’s and Fidesz’s “invaluable” contributions to the dismal financial state of Hungary. We may also note that he is actually generous to Orbán by staying mum about the permanent division of society that was unimaginable before Fidesz forced it on the country.

In keeping with my earlier claim of lining Orbán up with his distasteful predecessors, I offer you … Read the rest

Viktor Orbán and the Sándor Palace

There’s no question, Viktor Orbán’s megalomania is for real. Power is not enough. He needs the trimmings as well. Very early in his first term as prime minister he fixated on moving his office and his whole apparatus into the Sándor Palace, the official residence and office of Hungarian prime ministers between 1881 and 1945. For anyone who’s interested in the history of the building there’s a short article on the website Múlt-kor. Accompanying the article is a picture taken right after the war which shows that practically nothing … Read the rest

A real dip in Fidesz support: Medián

Medián has the reputation of being one of the more reliable pollsters in Hungary. If poor Mark were still with us he would immediately retort that they are all lousy. OK, let’s say that Medián is the least unreliable. It acquired its good reputation when its prediction was close to the real results of the 2002 elections when most pollsters were sure of a Fidesz landslide victory instead of a narrow loss.

In any case, Medián conducts polls for HVG every month. Medián and other more reputable pollsters have been … Read the rest

Verbal encounter on Facebook about the national debt

Viktor Orbán declared war on the national debt and it seems that Ferenc Gyurcsány declared war on Viktor Orbán. Orbán has been on Facebook for almost a year, and I was surprised that Gyurcsány didn't show up on Facebook, which is becoming a national pastime in Hungary.

It looks as if Gyurcsány has thrown himself into politics again. Today it will be decided whether MSZP's leadership is ready to accept his Democratic Coalition platform (with over 4,000 members including non-party members) and thus accept the challenge of reforming MSZP. According … Read the rest

A new subcommittee: criminal politicians and the sovereign debt?

First I would like to call attention to a video available on YouTube. Klára Ungár (formerly SZDSZ) organized a conversation with Ágnes Heller. The reason for my mentioning this is because Kata was inquiring whether Heller was ever critical of the socialist governments and my answer was that I remember that in fact she was. On this video Heller repeats some of her objections, among them her conviction that Ferenc Gyurcsány should have resigned after the Balatonőszöd speech became public. The video has five parts. The last two segments are … Read the rest

A run-down building in Moscow and Russian-Hungarian relations

I'm usually at a loss when I have to deal with legal terms in Hungarian. Here is this "hűtlen kezelés" (unfaithful handling) business. Everywhere you turn you hear about former politicians or businessmen heading state firms committing "hűtlen kezelés." The old and largely useless Országh dictionary lists at least five or six English equivalents which mean obviously different things: fraudulent misuse of funds, fraudulence, malpractice, malfeasance, peculation. Surely it cannot be malpractice. It cannot be fraudulent misuse of funds either because I heard from a lawyer that "hűtlen kezelés" doesn't … Read the rest

Kulturkampf?

I'm back with an entirely different topic. Something that we might call the orbanite Kulturkampf. Nothing is being spared. First came the philosophers, then the historians, and now the artists–sculptors, an orchestra, and filmmakers.

Gyula Budai is "investigating" seventy-eight contemporary artists who received grants under the Universitas Program. It was Bálint Magyar, liberal minister of education, who came up with the idea. Crumbling university buildings were being renovated on a large scale. Magyar thought that perhaps the presidents and the senates of the universities would also like to decorate the campuses … Read the rest