Exodus from Viktor Orbán’s Hungary

It was sometime in May that a research institute attached to the Central Statistical Office (KSH) working on a project sponsored by the European Union came to the conclusion that at least 230,000 Hungarians live outside of the country. Since these are only the ones who officially announced their departure, I suspect that the 500,000 figure that’s bandied about is a more accurate estimate.

According to the official figures today, two and a half times more Hungarians now live abroad than in 2001, and in the last few years the numbers have been trending upward. In 2011 58,000 people left the country; in 2012, 72,000. The favorite destinations are Germany (35%), the United Kingdom (25%), and Austria (14%).

According to most analysts, Hungary has been losing its best and brightest in this new wave of emigration. They think that there are at least two reasons for the emigration. First, the sluggish Hungarian economy and high unemployment and, second, Hungary’s authoritarian turn. According to an IPS report, a lot of couples who are not officially married leave because they and their children are not considered to be a “genuine” family according to the Orbán government. Lesbians and gays also have a hard time in Hungary, and when they hear that by now even Austria allows gay marriages, they pack up and leave.

Until recently one heard mostly about the large number of doctors and nurses who were seeking employment abroad. In fact, there is a shortage of doctors and highly qualified nurses in several countries, including Great Britain, Germany, and Sweden, and they welcome skilled Hungarians. But by now other skilled professionals are also sought after, for example computer scientists in Germany.

Then there are those whose political views are such that they find Orbán’s Hungary suffocating. Not so long ago there was a report based on interviews with Hungarians living in Berlin (Oppositionelle Ungarn in Deutschland. Jenseits von Orbanistan). The Hungarians in that article complained about anti-Semitism, anti-Roma feelings, homophobia, and hate campaigns. They wanted out. A lot of writers and intellectuals have already left or are planning to leave, especially if Orbán wins the election next year.

Hungarian papers noted today that the German Statistical Office reported a 4.1% growth in immigration, which is something of a record in recent years.  The number of Poles grew by 13.6% in one year, but that is nothing in comparison to the Hungarian figures. Just last year 24,638 Hungarians settled in Germany, a whopping 30% increase over 2011.

emigrationIn addition to those who leave Hungary in search of work, greater opportunities, or a freer life, there is an increasing number of university students who study abroad. Their numbers will most likely grow substantially in the future as a result of the Orbán government’s introduction of very high tuition fees coupled with the government’s intention to force graduates who received a tuition-free education to remain in Hungary for a number of years. As it stands now, 29% of those who finished high school this or last year definitely want to continue their education abroad, and 60% of them would rather study abroad than at home. Only 11% definitely want to study at home. When these students were asked where they would like to go, most of them mentioned the United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. Many would like to study in the United States, but that is problematic due to the very high tuition fees and lack of scholarships.

The best qualified students from elite schools with excellent language skills are the ones who are heading abroad to continue their education. And there is a good likelihood that they will not return after spending four or five years in western countries. Getting into one of the really competitive British or American universities is not easy, but there now exists a business venture in Budapest, the Milestone Institute, that preps applicants for entrance exams or the American SATs.

In five years the number of Hungarian students in the United Kingdom doubled. In 2008 only 310 students applied from Hungary and 192 were admitted. In 2012 there were 519 applicants; 329 began their studies in October 2012. There is a new record for 2013: 719 applicants and 433 Hungarian first-year students.

But students have other less expensive options that require no coaching in test taking. In Austria there are no tuition fees and no entrance exams. Mind you, more than half of the students enrolled in Austrian universities don’t graduate. In some of the more rigorous institutions the graduation rate is even lower. For example, in the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, out of the 7,000 enrolled in the first year only 2,500 students actually finished their course of study. According to estimates, there are at least 2,000 Hungarian students just in Vienna. Based on interviews I read, they find Vienna and life there to their liking. Bureaucracy is practically nonexistent in comparison to the Hungarian universities. In Vienna it is easy to find part-time jobs and with a little luck they even manage to find modest and relatively inexpensive apartments they can share with others.

From the point of view of Hungary’s future, this exodus is not encouraging news. It is really ironic that this accelerated emigration, especially of young people, is occurring during the most nationalistic Hungarian government since 1944. The government has been trying to lure back the emigrants with little success. Even the liberal ATV television station, not exactly a favorite of the Orbán government, has a daily program that has the odd title Hazahuzó, literally meaning “drawing back home.” It is a kind of travelogue showcasing the beauties of various cities and regions of the country.

On the whole, people who decide to start a new life elsewhere belong to the younger generation and therefore, if this trend continues, the demographic problems of the country will be even greater in the future than they are now. The Orbán government’s methods aimed at encouraging people to have more babies are primitive and ineffectual. Their latest is that if a married university student decides to have a baby while still in school that student will not have to pay back his/her staggeringly high students loans.

In Hungary, for the time being, there are more immigrants than emigrants, contrary to the situation in Poland, Romania, or Albania. But a few more outrageous political and economic decisions by this government and the balance may tilt. By contrast, in Germany not only is immigration up but there is also a natural increase in the population. Alas, Viktor is no Angela.

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Ron
Guest

Yes, and not only university students are studying abroad.

Next year I expect a decrease in numbers of Basic School students. Parents asking me about schools in the Netherlands, but most I speak with considering Austria. Mind you most of them have jobs, but they do it for the kids.

People start to understand the full impact of Klik, and the new regulations at Basic Schools. Students cannot do their extra curriculum (mainly swimming lessons and some indoor sport activities). And the kids need to study, study and study. And the end of the week they are finished. Some kids like and prefer this situation, but most of them do like it at all.

Some kids still have no books (situation as of October 14). The situation should be solved on October 15. However, some kids still do not have their English school books. So they learn from copies made by teachers and some parents.

Mutt
Guest

Well, didn’t Orban say he’ll create 1 million jobs? He never said in Hungary …

Surferdude
Guest

Well, I share the sentiments, and I think there is a lot of truth to this, but some of the exodus is just the result of opening up the EU labor market to Hungarians. You would have found some emigration even if Orbán government had not done all the harm it did. The study I would like to see is how much worse is the situation compared to what we would have expected without Fidesz misrule.

gdfxx
Guest

Surferdude :
Well, I share the sentiments, and I think there is a lot of truth to this, but some of the exodus is just the result of opening up the EU labor market to Hungarians. You would have found some emigration even if Orbán government had not done all the harm it did. The study I would like to see is how much worse is the situation compared to what we would have expected without Fidesz misrule.

It’s very simple. All you need is a time machine and then some method of getting the opposition to win in 2010 after which just watch the results.

Mutt
Guest

Surferdude :
Well, I share the sentiments, and I think there is a lot of truth to this, but some of the exodus is just the result of opening up the EU labor market to Hungarians. You would have found some emigration even if Orbán government had not done all the harm it did. The study I would like to see is how much worse is the situation compared to what we would have expected without Fidesz misrule.

Well, as the post stated the immigration from Hungary is a lot higher than from the other ex-commie countries. I think this suggests that something is clearly off with the Orban government policies.

Also according to Luise Kovach and his turul brothers, we Hungarians are awfully patriotic, so something really has to be wrong if the hunkies are fleeing the homeland.

It’s funny in a twisted way. These wingnuts will chase away another Trianon amount of Hungarians in the upcoming couple of years, especially if they win in 2014. The Fidesz doubles Trianon. We don’t need a lost war when we have Orban.

Only on Planet Hungary.

Vlad
Guest

If Hungary has Gay marriage Hungary will be the new paradise

Happy Man
Guest

Yes, Vlad I must agree with you. Gay marriage is the number one issue in the world. When will people realize that Gay marriage brings prosperity, joy and peace throughout the world? It is great to be Gay today!

Janos Los Panos
Guest

Local math teacher went to west couple of years ago. She scored a position as receptionist at some regional airport. Starting salary was 4x her teachers salary. Now she is already in some management position and salary is accordingly. In her former school, there is yet another political appointee as headmaster. On her current job, she is advancing due to her own skills. I think her family will not return to Hungary in anytime soon.

Voice of Reason
Guest

Hey you two Happy boys. You forgot that homosexuality brings broken homes ,peadophilia, STD’s and suicide in astronomically higher odds than the population on the whole. Should these facts make us happy and Gay?

Surferdude
Guest
Mutt Mutt : Well, as the post stated the immigration from Hungary is a lot higher than from the other ex-commie countries. I think this suggests that something is clearly off with the Orban government policies. Also according to Luise Kovach and his turul brothers, we Hungarians are awfully patriotic, so something really has to be wrong if the hunkies are fleeing the homeland. It’s funny in a twisted way. These wingnuts will chase away another Trianon amount of Hungarians in the upcoming couple of years, especially if they win in 2014. The Fidesz doubles Trianon. We don’t need a lost war when we have Orban. Only on Planet Hungary. Attila Melegh, one of the best experts on migration (and by no means a fidesznik) says that emigration from Hungary, while it is growing (EU is slowly climbing out of a recession) is not exceptional in any way (HVG, July 15, 2013). (http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20130715_A_kivandorlas_egymasra_rakodo_tortenesek_ ) In any case, turul brothers (and the Orbán government that tries to force people with higher degrees to stay) agree that migration is a disaster for Hungary, they just have a different theory why people leave. My point is that some mobility is good. Hungary has… Read more »
Nofene
Guest

Wow, I thought it was the Catholic Church.
But it’s all besides the point. Heteros, families, even catholics leave as well. The country is going down the drain.

Guest

In some respects even Kadar times were better.
There’s an interesting story re IT there:

Around 40 years ago in one of my seminars on data bases I had a programming mamager who told me he wanted to get IT talent from the Eastern Block for his company, they were clever, honest hard working – and much cheaper. Later he told me that they had opened a company in Budapest where they found good people.

Again much later he became a professor, teaching in Vienna, Passau, Budapest and Szeged …

His name is Harry Sneed http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Sneed

And for his ideas he even got a reward in Hungary:

1987 Kiváló dolgozó (Held der Arbeit) by the Hungarian Software Institut SZKI

How is this relevant for today?

Well in those days work was transferred from Germany to the specialists in Hungary – today the Hungarian specialists jump ship and transfer to Germany, Austria or where ever …

Surferdude
Guest

wolfi :
In some respects even Kadar times were better.
There’s an interesting story re IT there:
Around 40 years ago in one of my seminars on data bases I had a programming mamager who told me he wanted to get IT talent from the Eastern Block for his company, they were clever, honest hard working – and much cheaper. Later he told me that they had opened a company in Budapest where they found good people.
Again much later he became a professor, teaching in Vienna, Passau, Budapest and Szeged …
His name is Harry Sneed http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Sneed
And for his ideas he even got a reward in Hungary:
1987 Kiváló dolgozó (Held der Arbeit) by the Hungarian Software Institut SZKI
How is this relevant for today?
Well in those days work was transferred from Germany to the specialists in Hungary – today the Hungarian specialists jump ship and transfer to Germany, Austria or where ever …

A fascinating story. I am sure Sneed has many interesting stories to tell.

oneill
Guest
Regular readers here will know that I am no fan of El Commandante but I think it is pushing the narrative too far if we emphasise the political motivations of those who are emigrating. Whilst I am sure many are horrified at the regime’s actions, the vast majority are economic refugees. To be honest, Hungary has lived in a false situation since 1990; any other small country with no natural resources beyond a cheap workforce has suffered through history from the mass emigration of its young. As Gyurcsany pointed out Hungary’s politicians have lied day and night about the economic realities and with the majority of the population being passively obedient and basically ignorant of the reality staring them in their face, these lies have gone unchallenged. Hence the housing boom of 2000-2008, built on nothing else than political opportunism, greed (of the population) and unsustainable loans. Hence an enormous central bureaucracy where 1000s turned up every day and basically got paid well for doing nothing. Hence a state-subsidized state media and cultural sector employing again 1000s with unbelievably cheap (or at least they were) tickets and admission. Emigration has increased recently because of the explosion in the cheap flight… Read more »
Dutchy
Guest

oneill :
If the economic situation ever does improve in Hungary there won’t be many returning until they see an economy run on truly meritocratic grounds, where you employment possibilities don’t depend on who you know or which political party you support. Are we truly confident that when the Orban Regime is finally toppled, corruption in all its forms will disappear with it?

No, unfortunately. Every country has the government it deserves. Hungarian mindset needs to change first.

eskild2013e
Guest

RESULT OF ORBANS EKSPEIMENT
IT HAS CREATED A BITTER COCKTAIL
A NATION OF DUMMIES, PARANOIRIANS AND POWERJUNKIES

DEAR VIKTOR!
STOP YOUR EKSPERIMENT!
IT´S OK TO FAIL AN EKSPERIMENT; BUT IT IS NOT OK TO KEEP ON FAILING.

THE JOKER YOU FORGOT IN YOUR PLAN IS: PEOPLE WILL NOT BEE CREATIVE, INOVATIVE AND SOCIETY RESPONSIBBLE. BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID OF WATH YOU DO NEXT TO CONTROLL KRITICISM AND REASONABLE ARGUMENT.
PEOPLE ARE AFRAID AND THEREFORE PARALYSED IN APATHIC.

THANK YOU VICTOR
HAVE A GOOD DAY 🙂

Funkhauser
Guest
Oneill, I disagree. First, Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian people started to migrate much earlier than Hungarians did. Even before it was legal, but certainly after it became legal they migrated more than Hungarians did. Hungarians stayed home even after it was legal to move to anywhere in Europe. This phenomenon (the difference between the mobility of various CEE citizens) could have had many reasons, such as that Romanians were poorer and could learn Italian or Spanish easier. Or that Germany protected its labor market so only after it was completely open could Hungarians go there legally. Or that Polish were always more mobile (remember the so-called Polish markets back in Socialist Hungary). It might be that a certain kind of critical mass needed to build out in the target country (like UK or Germany) to be inviting enough for the less educated migrants, or that in Hungary even though the global downturn hit immediately and hard people had some reserves and only when such reserves were exhausted and also realized the Orbán will not turn around the economy they decided to leave. The real surge in Hungarian emigration to the West coincided with Orbán’s taking power. Causation is an issue,… Read more »
Guest
Of course migration is by itself no bad thing – we have a German saying like: If work doesn’t come to you, you have to go where the work is … In my travels by car around Europe (from London and Sheffield even to Athens, Antalya and Algeciras) and for the last 15 years mainly from Germany to Hungary and back I’ve always studied who else was on the road besides the tourists. And you could see some favourite directions: Poland to England and Benelux, Romanians to Italy, France and Spain and the rest of the Balkan (including Hungary …) mainly to DACH. Nowadays some main roads are extremely crowded all summer and also around the end of the year when not only tourist travel but many people who work in the West go home for a longer holiday to the East of Europe – they’re totally different, especially what they transport home or back to work. And I’m not counting those who travel by bus, rail or plane … Back to Hungary: From what we hear in the family and also from friends and acquaintances around Hévíz the pressure to search for better work – or any work at… Read more »
andy 'on oct 23 !'
Guest

It’s an odd feeling, being on a sinking ship named ‘Hungaria’.

There the occasional glimmer of hope that some things remaining here will retain some value in 100 years. Just think, about the decrepit violin that went down with the TITANIC.

It fetched one and a half Million Dollars… !!!

Future looks bright again

Jano
Guest

Funkhauser: “A couple of months the 2010 elections, the smarter and more mobile realized that nothing was gonna change for the better with Orbán but he is “smart” enough to keep power no matter what and any costs, even it means the destruction of the country.”

I think a lot of them had faith that with the pathetic governance of the Socialists over, things will go in a good direction and that Orbán learned the right lesson from his first tenure. When they saw that this was far from the case, it suddenly became painfully obvious that nothing fundamental is going to change in Hungary in the foreseeable future (or at least not for the better) no matter what party is in power. This is when people really started taking their hats.

Guest

And now for the good news from Hungary:

The sun is shining, we have 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) and when we went for a walk through the vineyards and gardens of our village right now we could hear the machines working and smelled the two stroke gas …

Seems that almost everybody was working with their Stihl chainsaws and Stihl mowers and grass trimmers – must be a fantastic business for that Schwab company at least!

And the best thing: Everybody waived at that crazy Hungarian/German couple with their Nordic walking sticks and their Belgian shepherd dog aka my wife and me – it’s a good feeling to be accepted by your neighbours!

And later we’ll turn on the tv to watch the news from the föváros but probably my wife will say: I don’t care for those f***ing politicians, let’s watch some German comedy show – anything is better than North Korean State TV aka M1, M2 etc …

PS: It’s amazing what kind of swear words those Hungarian gals know!

andy 'time flies'
Guest
A lot of factors went into the mix of reasons that Hungarians began to think realistically about going to work abroad. 1. The time was right. — i.e. the great political-social change of 1989 had come… and gone… People gave it about 20+ years of hard trying. No matter how much they lied to themselves and others, the real, awaited positive economic change was not happening. 2. The EU borders and then the free-work zone opened up by around 2008 and people began testing the waters abroad. And although the warm waters of Héviz were still on this side of the water, the affordable food and liquor and goodies were to be more plentifully found abroad. Seems like the proverbial fence made out of ‘kolbasz’ seemed to be moving west. Even the iron for the fence was no longer being made here. 3. So, to be in advance of a new iron fence being put up again, this time by the West, they have made a mad rush for it while the going’s good – in true Hungarian Style. And thats how this slew got to the other side of the fence, this time around. That’s the long and short… Read more »
Műveltséget
Guest
wolfi : Of course migration is by itself no bad thing – we have a German saying like: If work doesn’t come to you, you have to go where the work is … In my travels by car around Europe (from London and Sheffield even to Athens, Antalya and Algeciras) and for the last 15 years mainly from Germany to Hungary and back I’ve always studied who else was on the road besides the tourists. And you could see some favourite directions: Poland to England and Benelux, Romanians to Italy, France and Spain and the rest of the Balkan (including Hungary …) mainly to DACH. Nowadays some main roads are extremely crowded all summer and also around the end of the year when not only tourist travel but many people who work in the West go home for a longer holiday to the East of Europe – they’re totally different, especially what they transport home or back to work. And I’m not counting those who travel by bus, rail or plane … Back to Hungary: From what we hear in the family and also from friends and acquaintances around Hévíz the pressure to search for better work – or any… Read more »
Guest

@Műveltséget

And you don’t understand the Germans – I wrote: “Balkan (including Hungary …)” and before that I stated in another comment that for many people the Balkan begins in Munich …

Of course geographically Hungary is part of Central Europe, but this is not a problem of geography but of perception – Hungary is as crazy/corrupt as the “real” Balkan states!

PS:

Don’t forget that I have a Hungarian wife (with a large and friendly family) and we live here near the Balaton …

Louis Kovach
Guest

Mutt: “Also according to Luise Kovach and his turul brothers, we Hungarians are awfully patriotic, so something really has to be wrong if the hunkies are fleeing the homeland. ”

The dog barks, the caravan goes on….

Mutt
Guest

Louis Kovach :
Mutt: “Also according to Luise Kovach and his turul brothers, we Hungarians are awfully patriotic, so something really has to be wrong if the hunkies are fleeing the homeland. ”
The dog barks, the caravan goes on….

… to the West.

tappanch
Guest

I was everywhere today. Beautiful weather, walked 15+ kilometers.

The Orbanists were marching along the town. I saw many “Szekely” flags in the crowd, meaning many people had been bussed in from Transylvania (and the countryside).
You need plenty of money for this. Transportation, food and accommodation.

The opposition squeezed their supporters into the place between the Tech University and the Danube.

As I pointed out repeatedly, a marching crowd always looks larger than a standing one.
The organizers of the opposition should know this.

tappanch
Guest

I was crossing the St Istvan Boulevard when the Orbanist crowd led by Szeles and Bayer was heading in my direction. I shouted loudly at them:

“Down with the Fascism! Down with Orban!”

Orbanists quickly surrounded me asking
“how much were you paid for this?”

They cannot imagine that someone can be passionate without being paid for it.

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