Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Hungarian Catholic Church and charges of pedophilia

First we heard about the deviant sexual behavior of Catholic priests in the United States. Not a word from Europe. Then slowly the walls of silence came tumbling down even on the Continent and one gruesome incident after the other was reported. But in Eastern Europe silence reigned. Surely, no thinking person could believe that all Hungarian priests were saints, radically different from their colleagues elsewhere. There must be problems in Hungary too, but people are either reluctant to report the priests’ misdeeds or the Catholic Church manages to keep … Read the rest

Return to the “Hungarian Watergate”

It was on September 12, 2008, that I first reported on a scandal that I dubbed the "Hungarian Watergate." But while in the United States Watergate ended in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Hungarian Watergate's fate has been shaping up very differently in the last two and a half years. "The bad guys" have morphed into the good guys and the good guys into the bad.

To summarize the events, the National Security Office under the socialist-liberal government became suspicious that a company called UD Zrt. … Read the rest

Divided opposition: Fidesz can be the only winner

Last Sunday there were by-elections in Zugló, the XIV district of Budapest. A Fidesz-KDNP member of the city council, Imre Garaba, had resigned for family reasons. So, a new campaign, new elections for the seat. MTI simply announced the results: Tildy Balázs (Fidesz-KDNP) won with 39.1% of the votes. HVG's headline read: Fidesz-KDNP nominee has a solid [biztos] lead in Zugló.

Well, I wouldn't call the win spectacular. After all, Márta Demeter (MSZP) was second with 30.3% while Gábor Kaibinger (LMP) received 17.5% of the votes. The final result might … Read the rest

Growing emigration?

It is a commonplace that Hungarians are among the least mobile people in Europe. In some ways they resemble the French who traditionally were very reluctant to leave home. Starting in the fifteenth century France tried to colonize parts of North America. Most attempts, Quebec excepted, failed. A similar fate awaited the Netherlands. England, originally the least likely to succeed in the colonization of faraway places, came out ahead: in the seventeenth century an incredible number of people from the United Kingdom left, facing untoward dangers on sea and land.… Read the rest

Refusing to face the past

Until recently critics of the Hungarian attitude toward the past complained only about the fact that the overwhelming majority of Hungarians simply refuse to take responsibility for the crimes committed against Hungarians of Jewish origin that resulted in the death of about 400,000 people. The Hungarian attitude is similar to that of the Austrians who gladly dump responsibility for the holocaust within their own country on the Germans who marched into Austria accomplishing the Anschluss that, let's face it, most Austrians fervently desired. The Austrians can point to the fact … Read the rest

Show trials under way?

In Hungarian show trials are called "koncepciós perek." There is first a concept, the decision to put somebody into jail, and then the police and the prosecutors create the "facts" that prove the person is guilty.

In today's 168 Óra there is an article by József Barát about the Orbán government's attempt to lower the retirement age of judges, including the responses of several legal experts to questions he posed. Among others Barát asked László Boros, a legal scholar, about the possible ramifications of "beheading" the justice system. Boros began his … Read the rest

The next victim: the judiciary system

For about a week there have been rumors that "there might be changes in the composition of the judiciary." First there was talk about the chief justice of the supreme court, András Baka. Commentators considered the renaming of the supreme court to "kúria" an opportunity to get rid of Baka, a László Sólyom nominee. Then came news about a possibly much more sweeping change. Magyar Hírlap reported that in the new constitution there might be a provision by which any judge who served as a judge before 1989 would be … Read the rest