Monthly Archives: October 2011

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”: Hungarian college students and Rózsa Hoffmann

Let me state at the very beginning that I’m not against tightening requirements for college diplomas and introducing tuition fees accompanied by scholarships based on financial need. However, I’m against what the Fidesz government is doing to Hungarian higher education and the manner in which it is doing it.

As usual Fidesz politicians use the double talk that is so typical of Viktor Orbán and his entourage. The word “tuition” cannot be uttered. After all, earlier Fidesz forced a referendum to defeat a proposal to introduce a modest tuition fee … Read the rest

Creating ideal Hungarians: The Fidesz-KDNP’s intellectual return to the 1930s

Yesterday I outlined the Orbán government’s attempt to return a few hundred square feet to its 1944 persona. The spot has symbolic significance for the politicians currently in power in Hungary because it is located in front of the House of the Homeland, as the parliament is known in Hungarian. The desire to stop the clock in one little segment of the world has an air of unreality to it. But that’s not all that seems to me to be doomed. An intellectual return to the 1930s through education seems … Read the rest

Stopping time: Back to the Horthy regime (Kossuth Square)

The Hungarian government which is supposed to be conservative and thus should espouse values based on historical continuity has somewhat odd notions about history. They think they can pick and choose periods they want to acknowledge and revere while others can simply be cast away. This worldview manifests itself in the preamble of the new constitution which declares: “We date the restoration of our country’s self-determination, lost on the nineteenth day of March 1944, from the second day of May 1990, when the first freely elected body of popular representation … Read the rest

The ugly side of MSZP, but will it win in the long run?

Before Sunday all those who wrote about the establishment of Demokratikus Koalíció (DK) assumed that the ten MPs who left MSZP would be in parliamentary quarantine for six months. The quarantine in this case means that they will have to operate as independents with very limited opportunities to play much of a role in the debates. Moreover, the party cannot be represented on the parliamentary committees which under the present circumstances is not a huge handicap. On the other hand, not receiving any money from the budget to which every … Read the rest

The first day of the Hungarian Parliament’s marathon session

However tempting it is to continue with my story of 1956, I have to return to the present for the time being. Parliament is in session and for eight days in a row the MPs will work furiously on all sorts of badly constructed new laws which slightly more than half of adult Hungarians reject. Normally, parliament is in session two days a week. The only exception to this custom was between 1998 and 2002 when the Orbán government decided that, although the Constitution specified weekly sessions, "weekly" could be … Read the rest

An eyewitness account: October 23, 1956, Part I

It will be quite a challenge to give a succinct yet sufficiently detailed summary of the events of those days. As I mentioned already on this blog, I was a third-year university student in the Faculty of Arts of ELTE in 1956. I lived in the university’s dormitory for women located at the corner of Rákóczi út and Múzeum körút right across from the Astoria Hotel.

Anyone familiar with the history of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 knows that one of the hottest spots in Pest was exactly that corner … Read the rest

What did the U.S. Ambassador tell Viktor Orbán?

Of course, we don’t know. We know from Al Kamen’s article published in The Washington Post on October 13 that U.S. Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis requested a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sometime in the middle of August. However, the busy Hungarian politician had no time for her.

The request was most likely forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office after there was no reaction to the ambassador’s article in Magyar Nemzet (August 3) entitled “A Values Based Alliance.” In this article Kounalakis reminded the Hungarian government that Hillary Clinton … Read the rest