To celebrate the Christmas Tree Revolution in Hungary

I want to thank all of you who have faithfully followed this blog over the years. I’m especially grateful to those who take an active part in making Hungarian Spectrum a highly regarded English-language blog on Hungary.

Yesterday’s events have already been nicknamed the Hungarian “Christmas Tree Revolution.” Hence the card below.

A Happy Holiday Season for All


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Pete H.

Thank you for being one of the important sources that keeps the world informed about events in Hungary!
Boldog karácsonyt és új évet kívánok!


From me also many thanks to you, Éva and all the other contributors for that valuable kind of background info that you give here – and also for those lively discussions!
I hope we’ll continue this in the next year …
But first I have to manage all those nice things that my Hungarian wife (who’s name is also Éva, btw) cooked and baked for me and the family …
Merry Xmas everybody!


Thank you Eva for this valuable place for updates, discussion and idea exchange about Hungary.
We are cooking and baking since last night.
I wish you all the contributors and readers, as well as for you of course a Peaceful, Happy Holiday.

Lutra lutra

Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all, especially to Eva for stimulating such lively and passionate debate.


There is no need to thank us, because it is you who deserve the thanks. Especially, because it is really not a hard chore to keep up with this blog, but rather a pleasure, as long as we are interested in the subject, as we are, and if our interest would, god forbid falter, you always keep it interesting. So, thanks to you.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


I heartily second what Sandor wrote. What’s going on in Hungary is bad enough, but it would be far worse without somewhere to find out the latest news and vent my feelings and frustrations.
Happy Christmas, Éva, and all the best for 2012 – and for many New Years to come. I have a nasty feeling we’re going to need your blog for a good few years yet.
As an Anglo-Hungarian family, we get rather a lot of Christmas! We’ve just had our Hungarian Christmas Eve, and in just a few hours time we’ll be woken by the kids, desperate to show us what Santa has brought them in their stockings, as our English Christmas starts.
The kids love it – two lots of presents!
Happy Christmas to all HS readers and writers. Let’s hope for an especially good New Year – for most Hungarians, at least!


Dear Éva and all: I am so thankful to have found this blog.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Fine New Years!


Dear Eva,
Congratulations and Merry Christmas!
Thank you.


I would like to express my gratitude as well for the existence of this blog. After living in Hungary as a foreigner for almost fifteen years, there has never been a time that has been more troubling than the one we are in. In a world of undeniable globalization and competitiveness, nations like Hungary are undoubtedly presented with very hard choices. Hungary has chosen to become an island led by a tribal dictator. I believe it is only a matter of time before the egos of those in power are crushed by the frightening reality that they themselves have helped to create. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and prosperity in 2012.


Interfering English democrat here!
London calling (again!)
Here’s mud in your eye!
(I’m not being rude – honest! – just a usual toast of endearment at Christmas time in London!)
I hope that everyone is enjoying their little Jesus’s in their home countries – Including the IMF!!!
Thanks Eva for such a calm insightful analysis of the Hungarian situation. Sometimes it’s hilarious – if it wasn’t so serious – how the authoritarian Fidesz gives the pretence of democracy.
Eva? Have you ever considered returning to Hungary and forming a ‘Sensible Democracy’ party? Do you have dual Canadian/Hungarian nationality?
Your country needs you!
As a Londoner I find the Orban shenanigans (and the sheer ignorance of real democracy) absolutely riveting – a real soap opera – and the people around Orban seem to be such ignorant dinosaurs.
Anyway – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all
Warm regards
Charlie (and Aniko!)


I don’t comment much here, but I very much enjoy reading the blog. Keep up the good work!
BTW I noticed from some of the media reports that the new replacement religion law now requires a church to have a 100 year history before being recognised. This would seem to rule out Faith Church (Hit Gyulekezet), which had seemingly miraculously got recognition under the old law.
I wonder does this mean that Viktor now thinks that he is powerful enough to take on (Faith Church owned) ATV? Will it be put out of business next? Don’t be too surprised if they come under a Putin style “tax investigation”……


Thank you for keeping the blog alive over the last year. As the above posters have said, it is a beacon shining through a cloud of mis-information and propaganda. Thanks to you (and your trusty commentators)we have a much clearer picture of both the current and the historical.
wishing you and your family best wishes for the New Year.
Kind Regards, Jonathan and Detti

peter litvanyi

Dear Eva /others,
I wish a Happy Holiday Season for all of You.
Peter Litvanyi


Indeed, something has started on December 23 in Hungary. Also, all respect to those journalists who spent Christmas on hunger strike in front of the MTVA building to protest the manipulation of the public media.
I wish a wonderful holiday season for everybody.


Thank you to Eva and more especially the brave media outlets in Hungary itself who have kept the flag of free information flying.
Happy Xmas and gird the loins for 2012. It ain’t going to be pretty but it’s going to be the crucial for all of us who love Hungary that the battle for democracy is won by whatever means.

OT and not in line with all the well-wishing: (the Hungarian ambassador to the US) Szapary’s response to Krugman’s piece, in today’s New York Times. Conditions in Hungary Published: December 25, 2011 To the Editor: Re “Depression and Democracy,” by Paul Krugman (column, Dec. 12): As an economist and former official of the International Monetary Fund, I have always read Mr. Krugman’s work with great interest; I was therefore surprised to read his summary judgment on Hungary. He refers to gerrymandering, while in fact the proposed electoral law stipulates explicitly that individual constituencies shall cover a coherent area, exactly to avoid what Mr. Krugman assumes that the government is doing. As for judicial independence, just as in the United States, where judges are often selected and confirmed by elected officials, let us give the Hungarian judges the necessary respect and not assume that they are mere puppets of politicians. Regarding the Hungarian media, anyone who reads the Hungarian press can see as much outspoken criticism about the government as ever. The supposed criminalization of the Socialist Party that Mr. Krugman cites is only a symbolic and political declaration that acknowledges the horrors of the previous Communist regime, something that most… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Gretchen: “OT and not in line with all the well-wishing: (the Hungarian ambassador to the US) Szapary’s response to Krugman’s piece, in today’s New York Times.” I call everybody’s attention to the original “Kormos” published here on December 14, the same day Szapáry wrote his letter to the New York Times. Quite a rewrite!!!! As an economist, as well as a former IMF official and Deputy Governor of the Hungarian central bank, I have always followed your column in the New York Times with great interest because of the fresh insights and empirical foundations upon which you normally base your arguments. I was therefore surprised to read your comments about Hungary in your op-ed titled “Depression and Democracy,” published in the December 12, 2011 issue of the New York Times. I am sure that you would also agree, as someone used to the rigors of academic research, that basing one’s judgment on one individual’s opinion, in this case that of Kim Lane Scheppele, a respected Professor from Princeton, can be nevertheless misleading. Please allow me to respond to some of your arguments. You write that the ruling party, Fidesz, “seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power” by “relying… Read more »

Kormos must have gotten the letter from Hungary, straight from the propaganda ministry, before Szapary saw it …
“Comrade Pelikan, here is your court testimony.”
“But comrade Virag, this is the verdict …”
“Oops. My bad. Must be the sleepless nights …”
(from the movie Witness)


Two times now I have tried to post an op-ed piece by Jackson Diehl in today’s Washington Post. And it doesn’t appear. If you go to the Washington Post website and enter his name you can find it. Titled”Autocracy returns to Central Europe”.


Ron~~Thank you! I dragged it (don’t know how to get the link to the comment box) and it seemed fine–just wasn’t there when I came back.


I am writing this with TWO separate DVDs being played, so it is a little difficult to concentrate, so apologies if I’m being thick.
But I don’t understand why/where/when two different versions of this letter were published. Can someone enlighten me please?


So, how did Kormos received the “first version” of reply or more so, from whom did he received the “first version from”? Interesting.

Eva S. Balogh

Kormos said that it was from a reliable source and that he was certain that it was genuine.
I agree it was. The connection between the longer and the shorter published version is striking. At least as far as the message is concerned.


Paul,Ron: The shorter letter was published yesterday, Dec. 25, in the Letters to the Editor column of the New York Times.


Thanks Gretchen, but when was the longer version published?
Is there a NYT on Christmas Day? Here in the UK everything shuts down – no shops, no pubs, no trains or buses, and no newspapers!


Paul~~Our newspapers are very faithful, publishing on all holidays.


Sorry, I have no publication information on the longer letter.

Eva S. Balogh

Paul: “But I don’t understand why/where/when two different versions of this letter were published. Can someone enlighten me please?”
The longer version was published here among the comments by “Kormos” on December 14. He claimed that he had gotten it from a reliable source and it will appear in the NYT. Days went by, no letter from Ambassador Szapáry.
Well, it appeared yesterday (what a day to pick!!!) Barely anything remained of it. The NYT shortened it quite a bit, I assume with the permission of the author. Szapáry should know that no newspaper will publish such a long text. Moreover, I thought that it was a rather undiplomatic response from a “diplomat.”

Eva S. Balogh

Gretchen: “Sorry, I have no publication information on the longer letter.”
Well, folks, you don’t read the Spectrum’s comments carefully enough. Smiley!
In fact, Kim Scheppele’s by now famous article in Krugman’s blog was an answer to the letter sent on to Spectrum by “Kormos.” But at that point she thought that it would appear shortly in The New York Times. However, the paper waited eleven days and published it on Christmas Day. I’m not even sure whether it appeared in the paper edition.