What went wrong in 1990?

This year we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the birth of Hungarian democracy after fifty years of Soviet domination. To mark the occasion a number of books, articles, and reminiscences will be published. Several interviews with people politically active in those days have already appeared.

These new studies and memoirs will complement books that have already been published dealing with the two or three years preceding the opening of parliament on May 2, 1990. Of course, there are at least two narratives of the same story, but I consider Zoltán Ripp’s Rendszerváltás Magyarországon, 1987-1990 (Budapest, 2006) a book that will have a significant impact on the public assessment of these events for a long time to come. Ripp, as a good historian should, tried to give a balanced view, yet it was obvious that his sympathies lay with those people who later formed the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). I’m unaware of a comparable work written from the point of view of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), although I just read that Imre Kónya, who later became minister of the interior in the Boross government (December 13, 1993-July 14, 1994), is in the process of writing his reminiscences of the period. Of course, the memoirs of a politician, however valuable, cannot be compared to a scholarly work with thousands of footnotes.

Two biographies of József Antall, the first prime minister of the post-communist era, appeared earlier. The first, Antall József távolról (József Antall from Afar), was written by Sándor Révész, a journalist at Népszabadság. It was published in 1996, three years after Antall’s death, not enough time for a balanced assessment. In 2006 József Debreczeni came out with A miniszterelnök (The Prime Minister), which suffers from Debreczeni’s undisguised admiration for Antall.

To understand the political situation twenty-five years ago it is important to recall the results of the elections of 1990 which took place on March 25 and April 8. Considering that it was the first free election after so many years, voter turnout was relatively low: 65%. MDF received 24.7%, SZDSZ 21.4%, the Smallholders 11.7%, MSZP 10.9%, Fidesz 8.9%, and the Christian Democrats 6.4%. MDF couldn’t form a government alone. Eventually, Antall opted for a coalition of MDF, the Smallholders, and the Christian Democrats. The opposition, all from the left of center, were the liberal SZDSZ (93 seats) and Fidesz (21 seats) in addition to MSZP (33 seats). A “grand coalition” of MDF and SZDSZ was out of the question for Antall and other important MDF leaders.

Although it is fashionable on the right to blame SZDSZ for the very sharp divide between the two political groupings, it was not a one-way street. A hatred of SZDSZ was widely shared in MDF political circles. The above-mentioned Imre Kónya published a short article in Magyar Nemzet a few days ago in which he recalls a conversation with Antall during the coalition negotiations. The future prime minister told Kónya that he didn’t want to govern with the liberals because “once they establish themselves in some of the ministries not even God Almighty will be able to get rid of them.” Yet, given the Hungarian constitutional set-up, Antall was forced to come to an arrangement with SZDSZ to ensure the relative stability of his government.

Today some critics, even former members of MDF like Károly Herényi, think that Antall made a huge mistake when he decided to form a coalition of three parties, all from the right. The problems facing the country were so great and the road ahead so difficult that a “grand coalition” would have been the only sensible move. Such an arrangement would have spread the responsibility for the very unpopular measures that lay ahead. And common governing may have blunted the sharp differences between the two groups.

Ever since 2010 there have been signs of a softening of the opposition’s very negative opinion of József Antall. Those who criticized him for years now think much more highly of the former prime minister. This is not surprising after five years of Viktor Orbán. Most people stress the fact that, despite all his faults, he was a steadfast supporter of parliamentary democracy, which is more than one can say about the current holder of the office.

And yet, although MDF could certainly have made a worse choice, Antall’s background and his immersion in Hungarian history didn’t prepare him to lead a new Hungary. This may sound odd coming from a historian, but let me explain what I mean. Normally, one would think that being well versed in history ought to be an asset for a politician. Yes, but not when the history of the country offers no viable models for a democratic future. Moreover, Antall by upbringing brought along the thinking of the “keresztény úriosztály” who were the main supporters of the Horthy regime. What do we mean by “keresztény úriosztály”? Another difficult term to translate. It was a group of upper middle class people, often of gentry background. The majority were Catholics, and many of them were either civil servants or were employed by the municipalities. József Antall, Sr. belonged to this class and held high civil service positions during the Horthy era. József, Jr. naturally attended a Catholic school, the famous Piarist gymnasium in Budapest. Throughout his youth he was steeped in that culture.

Source: www.piarist.hu

József Antall with István Jelenits, Piarist theologian and writer / Source: www.piarist.hu

With this background came a heightened nationalist fervor, which was an important ingredient of post-Trianon Hungary. Imre Kónya in an interview recently explained that what made him an opponent of the Kádár regime was not only the lack of democracy and freedom but also the want of nationalism. Although he sympathized with the fierce anti-communism of SZDSZ, it was the MDF leaders’ nationalism that induced him to join the party. After all, Antall was the one who announced that in spirit he wants to be the prime minister of 15 million Hungarians, which raised quite a few eyebrows. This nationalism has been the hallmark of the Hungarian right ever since. Unfortunately, in today’s world this nationalism can lead only to isolation and conflict.

The other day I talked about RMDSZ, the Hungarian ethnic political party in Romania. I mentioned its former chairman, Béla Markó, who just yesterday published a remarkable opinion piece in Népszabadság. He was talking about May 9, Europe-Day. He concluded his piece with these words: “Today we celebrate that day [May 9] as Europe Day, when the idea of European cooperation proved to be more important than the delusions of nation states because in a common Europe nations can breathe more freely than they can being locked up in their own hubris. I don’t know whether this will happen or not. But it should happen this way.” An indictment of both Hungarian and Romanian nationalism.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
i-doubt
Guest

Germany acknowledges it today that were liberated from Nazism by the Allies.

Hungary is different. The ruling Christian Hungarian elite can not admit that the Soviet victory meant liberation from the Horthy Nazism. Most Hungarians, except for the Communists will have difficulties to accept the truth about the Horthy/Gombos/Szalasi etc. leadership

Alex Kuli
Guest

In Hungarian terms, I am one of those weird creatures called a “liberal conservative.” I entirely accept the truth about the Horthy/Gombos/Szalasi leadership. But recognize the Soviet victory as liberation? Perhaps we should consult my great-grandmother, Zsofia Toth Kuli, whom Soviet troops liberated from her earthly body after having raped her. Or my grandparents, who lost all their property to the communist regime and narrowly escaped with their lives in the late 1940s. They’re all dead, so it will be hard. But I know what they would say.

The Allies destroyed Nazi Germany and then rebuilt it the Western part through vast expenditures of (mostly American) cash. I cannot think of any military occupation force that did anything similar. While we must be sensitive to the feelings of Jewish Hungarians, many of whom are deeply grateful to the forces that ousted the Nazis, the fact remains that the Soviets destroyed Hungary and continued to hold it captive for 45 years. Liberation my ass.

Elektrone Motyo
Guest

Horty nazism, yeah baby, dream on!

petofi
Guest

Nationalism is the refuge of 19th century romantics and egomaniacs. It is the ideal pablum for the mentally damaged Hungarians who, deep in their hearts, are inferior to all others–the source of their xenophobia. The amoral leadership of Hungary has continually to service the frail psyche of Hungarians by suggesting elements they are supposedly superior to intellectually or morally–to whit, Roma and jews.

Sick country: sick people.

Hajra Magyarok!

Latefor
Guest

Petofi – Every time you open your mouth, Orban gains a new supporter! 🙂 How much “belting” do you think Hungarians can take?
Are you testing how far you can go before you break the Hungarian spirit? What you’re doing is called: systematic psychological torture. Giving out a dosage every few days. You are not only attacking the government of the day but verbally abusing the Hungarian people…must be a great feeling to have God like power over us. 🙁

exTor
Guest

I have to agree with Latefor, petofi. The framing of your perspectives is highly problematic. You need to learn to process your thoughts in a way that does not disparage all Hungarians. For example, “Sick country: sick people.” is too blanketing. Appropriate condemnation is a requisite.

As for your signoff, ‘hajra’ = ‘on the hair’. Use ‘Hajrá magyarok!’. If you use Hungarian in order to exhort Hungarians, you might as well spell properly. Consider also using a diacritic with your Hungarian Spectrum alias, eg: ‘petőfi’ or ‘Petőfi’.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Webber
Guest

Let’s not go over the top here. Petofi hasn’t gained Orbán a single supporter, ever.

Webber
Guest

Also, peto does mean something you know – in Italian.

Webber
Guest

Peto – nickname for Peter – is also the name of a character in a Shakespeare play.

Latefor
Guest

Webber – You have no way of knowing that. It is a well-known, automatic human reaction to “protect” the abused.

Webber
Guest

ditto to you.

spectator
Guest

Well, if you or anybody else having been inspired by petofi’s rants to “protect” this national-neo-bolshevist piece of megalomaniac turncoat, then you certainly deserve him, nothing but!

Good luck with the protection, otherwise, pretty soon it will be a well sought after feature, so your efforts will pay off, eventually..!

Webber
Guest

keresztény úriosztály = Christian gentry, after which Eva’s explanation of what that meant in Horthy’s Hungary is helpful.
Eva, I think you left out one vital thing: Christian in this context particularly meant “not Jewish.”
That is relevant, I believe, because a recent piece in ÉS about Matolcsy’s new university included a quote from a German politician who mentioned that a minister in the Antall government didn’t like a particular institution because it gave fellowships to “too many of them”, and by “them” (it became clear) the Hungarian Minister meant Jews. Whether Antall shared that antisemitism I don’t know, but people in Antal’s government certainly were antisemites (not just Csurka – there were others, too), and this surely was a factor in MDF’s rejection of SZDSZ, which was seen by many as a Jewish party.

kidd
Guest
Hungary was always an underdeveloped country without significant resources. It was the most indebted former-communist country in 1990 and also where people were most content with the then existing socialism (paid for by those loans of course, but people had no idea and never cared about government debt). There is no relevant example of countries emerging from middle-income to high-income, though Slovakia is certainly a possible candidate, Finland is usually also mentioned. But Korea, Taiwan or Singapore were all specially supported by the US, could protect their markets and concentrate on exports at a historical period when there were few competitors and are all geographically isolated (ie. consumers couldn’t travel to Slovakia or Austria if the price for certain products were artificially set at a high level by local companies to protect markets for example, while they competed abroad). Japan also protected its markets, was supported by the US, and is of course geographically isolated in the above sense, plus it also had an extremely developed industrial heritage and a very efficient bureaucracy. China is a special case but mostly it had an unparalleled domestic market that is both protected and big enough so that indigenous companies can grow up… Read more »
Webber
Guest

“There is no relevant example of countries emerging from middle-income to high-income.”
Quite wrong. Finland and Ireland are examples from Europe of such countries. There are many more.
This “it has never been done” idea is a fallacy among some Hungarian political scientists and economists, and I have no idea why it sustains itself in Hungary.
It is incomprehensible because there is massive literature (in English, German, Italian, and Spanish) on countries that got out of the middle-income “trap” and moved to true prosperity.
It’s also no secret how these countries did it.
If Hungarian politicians want Hungary to find a “special, uniquely Hungarian way” it will never make it.

kidd
Guest
There aren’t many more examples. The Baltics are countries with 2m people each. If you only review Budapest and its surroundings, that area too experienced an enormous growth and may be counted as high-income even. Ireland is an Anglo-Saxon country (it’s a brand which corporations prefer and trust for their legal systems, rational thinking etc., plus everybody speaks English of course). It’s close to the UK and perhaps the closest EU country from the US on the way to Europe, with millions of Irish connections to the US. Also, it’s a small country of 4m and was only 3m a couple of decades ago. Finland is also a special case which is why the Finnish education model which is good for 6m white middle class people can’t be copied in the US. There are many useful objective conditions (like access to the seas) which tend to help growth which Hungary lack. For me the only relevant example is Slovakia which indeed surpassed Hungary in every way, although Bratislava is the practical outskirts of Vienna, which is a plus culture-wise. Hungary’s peers are Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Moldavia, Macedonia, Albania and none of them seem to thrive (although Romania is getting… Read more »
googly
Guest
With due respect, I would like to point out a few things that maybe you haven’t considered. If Ireland is too small with 4 million people, why is Finland big enough with 5.5 million, or Slovakia with 5.4 million? What number is close enough to Hungary’s 10 million for you? Nobody has mentioned Slovenia, which, though it did start from a relatively advantageous position in 1991, has done all the right things since then to become a high-income country, the recent troubles notwithstanding. It is also small, only 2 million people, but it shares a border with Hungary and even has a small Hungarian minority. It is less homogenous than Finland, though Finland is not entirely homogenous, either (and in this day and age, I think homogeneity is not automatically an impediment to achieving high-income status): 10% of Finns do not speak Finnish as their native language, though Swedish is by far the most widely-spoken minority language. That may count as homogenous for statistical purposes, but then Hungary is highly homogenous in this regard, since 99% of us speak Hungarian as our native tongue. For all the attention that Roma get in Hungary, they only officially constitute 3% of the… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Also, this “Hungary can never do it…” idea is bizarre, self-defeating, and self-fulfilling. The only way Hungary can get ahead is if people think about how.
Thinking aloud about how and why something desirable is impossible to achieve (as opposed to how to achieve it) is unique to Hungarians. I’ve never met with this type of thinking anywhere else in the world.

MusicLover
Guest

In the early 90s, Hungary offered one of the finest maths and science educations anywhere (in international studies, I think it came out top in maths). My brother-in-law was a recipient and stunningly capable. We have the example of Graphisoft, so I feel that Hungary could have established itself as world leader in IT and similar fields. But it didn’t and sadly, my brother-in-law is now living in Silicon Valley, a naturalised American citizen, and this aspect of the educational system is no longer remarkable. I think it was a lost chance.

Erdei
Guest

Music Lover, the incentives were totally different back then. Nobody could go to the West and study at a foreign college, nobody even spoke any languages. That age group graduating from high school just after 1990 was the most populous ever and there weren’t enough spaces at Hungarian universities and there weren’t private universities then. So in those days you had no choice but to study hard in high-school and in addition since the entrance exams were compulsory people took preparation courses for two years to concentrate on maths etc. Of course those days there wasn’t any distraction for kids (like mobile, internet, drugs, clubs, multiple TV channels etc.) and teachers who entered the profession with great enthusiasm during socialism were still teaching. Admittedly, the career paths of these older teachers were limited too which is not the case now for would-be teachers. Teachers come from middle-class backgrounds these days and simply don’t know and don’t want to know how to deal with poor kids (in many counties half of the kids are poor gipsies). It’s tough now, with more unruly kids and less money. Case closed.

Kirsten
Guest

“I’ve never met with this type of thinking anywhere else in the world.”

I had to laugh. Yes, this is how it sounds and yet it is so close to “Hungary is unique”, phrases that supposedly “cannot be translated”, things that just “can never happen in Hungary”, that I would refuse such idea out of principle :-). Hungarians should at some moment discard the idea that a weird barbaric origin means eternal exceptionalism.

Webber
Guest

Well, there ARE (mutable) cultural features to each country features that a few people in other countries might share, but which seem to be much more common in the given country –
A mild example: American women wearing “tennis shoes” with nice dresses.
Not all American women do it. Not all women who do it are Americans. But you will see it more often among Americans (in my experience) than among people of other nations.
A more serious example: German Schadenfreude. You meet it among the French and other nations as well – but I’ve never seen it as common as it is among the Germans. It’s open expression is considered simply disgustingly and unforgivably rude among Americans – a sign of sadistic brutality.
As to what I mentioned about Hungarian culture, of course some non-Hungarians sometimes engage in the “it will never work because…” thinking, but it is (in my experience) ever-present and overwhelming in Hungary. It seems to be taken as a sign of intelligence when someone can cynically say why something won’t, indeed can never work.

Kirsten
Guest

“It will never work/change here…” can be heard in many places, certainly in the former Communist countries (have you ever heard Romanians boasting about their “democracy” and “transparent public services”, or Czechs, or also Italians?). That can be heard frequently. In Hungary, unfortunately, the educated people with their pride of place (the most desirable feature being a noble descent, and if that is missing then other titles in large quantities) never fully embraced the idea of equality and solidarity. You will find this elitist thinking also in other countries, even in Britain, in France. But out of reasons that I can only speculate about in Hungary this thinking is shared even by those who are definitely not benefiting from it. For me this is a traditional society that fears change (even if there has been no escape from it during the past 150 years at least), which at some point then is “cultural”. But it could be changed, with some effort. (And it will change in some years, the lessons from these Orban years will be learned.)

Economic reality
Guest

Is Slovakia a developed country? Are you joking? The infrastructure of Slovakia is far behind the Hungarian infrastructure. Speak about Slovakian motor-ways? What was the ratio of automatic telephone exchanges during the 1980s? When was the first Slovak nation-wide mobil telephone network appeared? Speak about Slovakian motor-ways? When was the first Slovak nation-wide mobil broadband systems appeared (3G 4G etc) When were the slovak ATM(Automated teller machine) systems appeared? When were the first western malls appeared in the small cities? Everything appeared and spread many many years later in Slovakia. Even the sloavkian minimum wages (And average salaries) are/were always lower than the Hungarians. Read it: https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=RMW

googly
Guest

Economic Reality, you wrote: “Everything appeared and spread many many years later in Slovakia.”

I think that’s the point. Slovakia went from being very backward just 20 years ago to surpassing Hungary in GDP per capita and becoming the largest producer of automobiles in the world, on a per-capita basis. Yes, having been to Slovakia many times in recent years, it’s clear that Hungary’s infrastructure is superior in many ways, but Slovakia is improving much faster than Hungary, and hasn’t been focusing on construction contracts (and their attendant corruption and crony-enriching aspects) as diligently as Hungary. Plus, it’s much more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to build infrastructure in a mountainous country than a mostly flat country. Even given their poor (though better than Hungary’s) political choices of late, Slovakia is widely viewed as a much more successful country than Hungary.

Economic reality
Guest

Slovakia do not produce more car than Hungary. (Just check it) Moreover Slovakia had no High quality car factories. like Mercedes Audi etc…Historically, unlike Hungary, Slovakia was not industrialized part of the old Hungarian Kingdom.

googly
Guest

Slovakia produced more cars per person than Hungary, look it up. It doesn’t matter the quality of the cars, by the way, since the point is that Slovakia’s GDP per capita has surpassed Hungary’s. Besides, how much of a Mercedes or an Audi is actually produced in Hungary? Not much, but it is assembled here, so it counts as being built here. The engines are made elsewhere, the electronics are made elsewhere, most of its parts are made in more advanced industrial societies. Hungarians make the wheels and a few other less-complicated parts.

The fact that Slovakia was not previously very industrialised is the point: Slovakia has outperformed Hungary in almost every category for the past 5 years overall, and has now surpassed Hungary in many of them. We can argue about the reasons for that, but the fact remains that Slovakia, once the poor highlands of Hungary, is now viewed as more industrialised than Hungary. Slovakia has the Euro and is garnering more foreign investment than Hungary. Look forward to further divergence between our industrial sectors over the medium term.

petofi
Guest

Recently, I saw a Brit program about the manufacturing sectors that go into building a Rolls Royce. At least four of those areas were supervised by Poles or Slovaks–none by Hungarians.

Economic reality
Guest

Czechs Slovaks had no great past in industrial designing and engineering , and they had no great inventors and scientists, before the WW1 and interwar periods, their industry was mostly based on the kicences of foreign designs with minimal modifications.

Webber
Guest

On Slovakia you are right, but the Czechs had fantastic industry right up until WWII.
The Czech lands were always much more industrialized than Hungary.

Economic reality
Guest
Wrong. What do you mean by industry? Concentrate on the high tech industry (machine and electronics) before the ww1. There were no electrotechnology in Bohemia before the WW1. Hungarians produced light bulbs (the first tungten bulbs in the world) the first AC transformers and industrial AC generators in the world, Hungarians built turbogenerators (Only USA UK GErmany and France were able to produce turbogenerators before ww1), The first Hungarian telephone factory (Factory for Telephone Apparatuses) was founded by János Neuhold in Budapest in 1879, which produced telephones microphones, telegraphs, and telephone exchanges. Hungary had four larger automotive manufactury, Prior to World War I, the Kingdom of Hungary had four car manufacturer companies; Hungarian car production started in 1900. Automotive factories in the Kingdom of Hungary manufactured motorcycles, cars, taxicabs, trucks and buses. These were: the Ganz company[48][49] in Budapest, RÁBA Automobile[50] in Győr, MÁG (later Magomobil)[51][52] in Budapest, and MARTA (Hungarian Automobile Joint-stock Company Arad)[53] in Arad. Bohemia had only 1 very little aotomobile manufacturer before the WW1: Laurin & Klement in Mladá Boleslav The first Hungarian designed and produced airplane (powered by inline engine) was flown in 1909 at Rákosmező.[55] The earliest Hungarian radial engine powered airplane was built… Read more »
googly
Guest

Economic “Reality”,

Ah, imagine what great shape Hungary would be in if not for Horthy and Orbán! How low we have fallen since our glory days. Of course, before World War I, Slovakia was part of Hungary, and Hungary was part of the Habsburg empire. Maybe being controlled by Austrians and using Slovaks to run our industry is the only way we can succeed? Look how badly we have done without them, and how well they have done without us!

By the way, Selmecbanya is now… where? Oh yes, in Slovakia!

LwiiH
Guest

I guess this page needs a lot of correcting…. http://www.livescience.com/43424-who-invented-the-light-bulb.html

Webber
Guest

Sorry, old boy, but on this (too) you are wrong. The Czech lands were far, far more heavily industrialized than Hungary (you left out Skoda Works, for example – made artillery, cars and airplanes – and they were making planes long before Hungary).
This is not a matter of opinion. For edification, dump Wikipedia, and have a look at M.C. Kaser and E.A. Radice (eds), The Economic History of Eastern Europe, 1919-1975, 3 vols (Oxford: OUP, 1985-1986).
On Hungary in particular, I recommend
Andrew C. Janos, The Politics of Backwardness in Hungary, 1825-1945 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982).
Hungary was far less industrialized than the Czech lands both in the Habsburg Monarchy, after WWI, during WWII, and after WII. Hungary was the breadbasket of the empire, after all.

Wagner
Guest

Have you ever studied at a Hungarian school? I distinctly remember that in the history books it was clearly stated that within the Austro-Hungarian empire, Austria was the most economically/industrially developed part, then Bohemia and only then Hungary (lagging behind as it was very agricultural). If you think that the Czechs were ever below Hungary (let’s say after the 18th century) economically then you haven’t been to the Czech Republic or Hungary.

Economic reality
Guest

Before the WW1 Bohemia had light industry, textiles, footwear, garment manufacturing, mining, paper industry, game industry, glass, sugar, wood products, steal pig-iron production for export to Russia.

Kirsten
Guest

Very good, and that explains why Hungary has been in such troubles in recent years? 🙂

Webber
Guest

I have an inkling you’re getting your information from a German pamphlet dated c. 1933-1945. Am I right? Because the above is a description of Sudetenland only, not all of the Czech lands, and what you’ve written throughout this thread looks like anti-Czech propaganda from Germany from that period. It won’t cut the mustard.
Just look into Skoda Works, est. 1859, and what they manufactured right up to and through WWII. It was an enormous concern – the greatest weapons producer in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. There was nothing even remotely comparable in Hungary, and there still isn’t (alas).
There were other industries, as well, but I suppose that one should be enough to challenge your misplaced sense of national superiority.
Now if, instead of spouting nonsense about Hungarian industrial development, you want to wax poetic on Hungarian agricultural products before WWII, I’ll join you.

Economic reality
Guest

Slovak automotive industry is based on cheap little western cars, so it is no wonder that they produce them in high number. Hungarian automotive industry based on more larger elegant models with higher prices. Unlike in Slovakia the most car engines were produced in Hungary.

Hungarian automotive industry 17,8 billion (december 2013 ) for only 222,400 Cars

Slovak automotive industry 16,6 billion (december 2013) 993,000 (!!!)

“Slovakia has the Euro” and richer and more developed Czechs do not want the Euro , because it can be dangerous for their economy. Even United kingdom Sweden and Denmark refused the Euro as an economic risk.

Webber
Guest

And yet Slovakia has overtaken Hungary, economically.

Temple
Guest

Two tidbits.

If you know rural people you probably heard about ethnic stereotypes. One of those stereotypes is that the ethnic Slovaks (tótok) living in Hungary (interestingly even in places like Békéscsaba rather far from Slovakia) are busy, laborious, hard-working people like the Germans (svábok) and unlike the Hungarians.
The Hungarian factories close to the Slovakian border in Komárom, Esztergom etc. are full of Slovakians (that is mostly ethnic Hungarians from Slovakia) even though there is substantial unemployment and low activity ratios (including legally disabled people and suchlike) on the Hungarian side of the border. However, the Hungarians of Hungary tend to have a comparably worse work ethic than ethnic Hungarians of Slovakia who took up the culture of the majority.

The Slovaks are “Nordic people”, while the Hungarians are Southern, Slovakia is not our peer and never will be, just as the Czech Republic or Poland aren’t. We better get used to this.

Economic reality
Guest

Wrog, slovaks had a negative image in Hungary, long before the ww1. Hungarians stereotypically think about slavs as eastern lazy people. Slovaks were known as wandering/migrating wire, patch cauldron (in English : tinker) and basket weavers.. And a 18th century ethnic slur: “Adj a tótnak fél szállást egész helyre vergődik” Give an apartman to the slovak in your house, and he will try to thrown out from your own house.

Culturally and mentally slovaks are not Central Europeans, but rather Eastern Europeans, despite the fact they adopted western christianity instead of orthodox.

temple
Guest

I’m not talking about people of Budapest or the population in general, but rural people who live with people who are still held to be Slovaks by their neighbors.

These Slovaks speak no Slovakian any more but are still held to be Slovaks, same with the ethnic Germans who very often speak no German not even as a second language. They are actually held to be hard-working people, believe me, to these days by the neighbors.

Economic reality
Guest

And see various average IQ by country lists, Sloavks performed very bad in every IQ comparisons.

Guest

Now I think it’s time to ban you, stupid racist idiot!
You’re a good example of what has been wrong in Hungary in the last hundred years!

Kirsten
Guest

That statistic you found at the OECD or World Bank, I trust.

OMG, before sending you to this job of making some impression on the non-Hungarians interested in the country, your employer should have told you that there is some literacy around in work with publicly available databases. And as you suggested not to believe Wikipedia, which I did not in the first place (I quoted Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the EU, in case you need enlightenment), I wonder how much I should trust the information you provided on some science and technology in Hungary.

googly
Guest

So if you’re a Hungarian, then you must be very embarrassed to be getting beaten by these people you hold in contempt as inferior to Hungarians. It just goes to show you that intelligence, luck, and genetic superiority mean nothing compared to wisdom, humility, and hard work. Of course, I don’t believe for a second that Slovaks are any less intelligent than we are, but please, provide the links, I’d be interested in seeing where you get your information.

googly
Guest
In an earlier comment, you wrote: “Slovakia do not produce more car than Hungary.” I foolishly didn’t look it up, as you suggested, because it turned out that you now are contradicting yourself, and Slovakia produces more cars than Hungary, despite having half the population. I see that you are unreliable when writing “facts”, so I will start fact-checking everything you write (not that you will be writing much more on this blog, I suspect). All of this is beside the point, really, which you don’t seem to understand. Hungary now has a lower GDP per capita than Slovakia, even though it was much higher than Slovakia’s fifteen years ago. The things you say about how backwards Slovakia was in the past just reinforce the argument that Slovakia has done so much more than Hungary in bringing itself into high-income status. I don’t know how I can restate this so that you understand it, if you haven’t been able to comprehend it up to now One of the things that a small, middle-income country with little industry of its own can do to attract foreign investment is to switch to the Euro. Many countries have done it, including virtually all… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest

So, by luxury you mean Suzuki?

Kirsten
Guest

Minimum wage Slovakia 2015: 380 Euro, Hungary 333 Euro. Estonia 390 Euro, Latvia 360 Euro, Lithuania 300 Euro. When you compare the starting points, the failure is so apparent that whatever statistic from some years ago you consult will not suffice to make you at least feel better about it.

Economic reality
Guest

Hahaha, do not trust in blogs. USE OECD and Word Bank data instead of fantasy.

Kirsten
Guest

Eurostat is a place that the member states send their data to. So what do you mean by fantasy…?

http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tps00155&plugin=1

Economic reality
Guest
Kirsten
Guest

And now please also the results in terms of living standards. Or the supporting environment for the scientists, to carry on in Hungarian fame. Perhaps some people in the countryside may believe that your stories about past glories mean something for today but probably in most places people will just count what it inside their wallet.

Economic reality
Guest

https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=RMW

Trust in OECD or Word Bank, instead of wikipedia. But you can count it with or without a calculator.

Guest

Very funny!
“Trust in OECD or Word Bank, instead of wikipedia.”
This from the troll which likes to quote at length (or ad nauseam …) or cut and paste from wiki …

Guest

@Economic irreality:

You’re a really stupid troll (but funny in a way …) – reminding me of some crazy creature we had here before: “Adam something” …
The funny thing is that most of the scientific advances by Hungarians were of course done by those Jews that Horthy managed to chase away …
So we could say that by forcing people like von Neumann, Szilard, Teller and countless others Horthy was responsible for the success of the Manhattan Project i e the atom bomb?

Peter Janos
Guest

Read the article of science and technology in hungary. JEWISH scientists were important mostly in particle and nuclear phisics. These jews were hungarian, they went to christian primary schools and secondary schools instead of Jewish schools, they grew up in hungarian culture, and they didn’t spoke yiddish or Hebrew. They considered themselves as hungarians in their own curriculum even after the holocaust and foundation of Israel. They were magyars by self determine. Only the nazis tried to question their identity in hungary.

Guest

Are you crazy?

Remember the “Jewish laws” of Horthy – starting in 1921 long before the Nazis came to power in Germany. Read about Teller and von Neumann or famous mathematicians like Turán Pál who could not get a job at a Hungarian university and was sent to a work camp instead …

Teller
Guest

The Hungarian Numerus Clausus was introduced in 1920. Though the text did not use the term “Jew”

Numerus clausus was not a Hungarian “invention” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numerus_clausus

Jonnnny
Guest

Orban at Friends of Hungary Foundation.

Of course at this blog we all knew that there was never any essential difference between the policies put forward by Orban and Jobbik, but it’s important to document at least for all those naive people who once imagined Orban as a true democrat and then, well-not really a democrat but still not like those corrupt -post communists, and then, well, he is corrupt too, but at least we can deal with him and then ….

http://cink.hu/orban-viktor-esszenciaja-1703544921

Nádas
Guest

“The fierce anti-communism of SZDSZ”? Weren’t many of the Free Democrats’ leaders actually children of Kádár-era MSzMP cadres? And because of that weren’t their “underground” organizing and samizdat activities to some extent protected and tolerated in the mid- to late ’80s? Wasn’t the party seen, quasi-officially, as a kind of bridge to a socialist-leaning Hungary in the democratic future?

This was the general impression of many in those years.

Webber
Guest

János Kis – one original SZDSZer – spent a little time in prison for protesting. You can’t say that about anyone in Fidesz. So, I’d say that is slander Fidesz people (and others) spread about SZDSZ..

Nádas
Guest

I’ve heard this from friends who were SZDSZ supporters at the time. And there are many people, Free Democrats and others, who “spent a little time in prison” in those days.

petofi
Guest

Think of me as an educative force.
What is more important: to be a ‘good’ Hungarian; or to be a decent human being?

Now, if you want to be a decent person as a Hungarian, why aren’t you out building support for the only person who should lead the country–Joseph Angyan?

MusicLover
Guest

Because, with the exception of a single issue, he slavishly voted for every nonsense put in front of him for four years, including the robbery of the private pensions, the curtailing of the many institutions that provided the checks and balances, the “constittution” and the “election law.” So his reinvention as a man of principal and integrity takes a bit of swallowing

petofi
Guest

correction to my last post: “environs” refers to areas ‘around’ Hungary. Of course, I meant to refer to areas ‘within’ Hungary…

Marilu Rora Spe
Guest

Jelenits István!

petofi
Guest

I cannot contest that: I don’t know. Perhaps he came ‘to see the light’. What is certain is that he went out to fight for what is Right and sacrificed everything in the process–that is admirable, and well nigh impossible to find in the environs of Hungary.

googly
Guest

I agree, that is a rare and wonderful thing, especially considering that Fidesz looked at the time like it might be in complete control for a generation or more (of course, Hitler talked about a 1000-year Reich, and Kruschev promised that he would “bury” the West).

However, as Simicska shows, just because you finally do the right thing after years of doing horrible damage to the country doesn’t mean that you are now a democrat. I will fully trust Ángyán after he has tried to reverse the damage for many years by fighting Fidesz in areas other than agricultural land management. I hope that he gets the opportunity to prove himself in the near future, though, in a counter-Fidesz government.

zorroofbudapest
Guest

OT: Please don’t doubt the Castle and the Museum/Liget Projects.

The two are intimately connected of course since the Museum/Liget project is necessary exactly because Orban wants to move into the Castle which means those institutions currently located there (National Gallery etc.) need to move elsewhere. Plus, giant construction projects are always a good way to steal money.

Some people here doubt these projects will happen — I tell you both will happen. If for nothing else than just to annoy liberals and voters who care about Budapest. Orban hates Budapest and loves that he had more impact on the ‘fabric of the city’ than supposedly Budapest-loving liberals (i.e. Erzsébet tér, National Theatre, Müpa etc.)

In a state budget of 14,000 bn forints there is always a few hundred billions for pet projects.

http://444.hu/2015/05/11/az-megse-jarja-hogy-az-allami-fogadason-lokdosodni-kell/

petofi
Guest

Orban’s major pet is in his pocket…

Webber
Guest
Orban had more impact on the fabric of the city… I’d be willing to bet that if elections were held tomorrow, Orban would lose in every district of Budapest with the possible exception of the hills in Buda where the nouveau riche peasants from his government build villas in such revoltingly awful taste (a la Szijjártó). Yes, that is impact, of a sort. In any case, I’m getting very tired of your rooting for Orban and the damned plan to reconstruct the Castle and Museum district. How you seem to love it. How do you feel about László L. Simon’s other great project, the Vár Bazár? How many times have the opened it now? Four? Let’s see, what else has been done in the town… Metro 4? Oh, dear.. that was a socialist project, wasn’t it? Orban’s people “finished it” in terms of cutting the tape. They didn’t actually contribute anything, did they? Erzsébet tér reconstruction, you say? – doesn’t count as Orban’s, does it? The national theater wasn’t ever built there, was it? The socialists turned it into what it is today, didn’t they? Reconstruction of the 5th district, and new street lamps? Socialists did that, didn’t they? Reconstruction… Read more »
toportyán
Guest
Webber: exactly. Orban would lose but he would be so OK with it. Because he knew that his system (which is full of his loyalists entrenched for a decade like constitutional court judges or top prosecutors) would live on. Nobody, not even the most “radical” leftist opposition advocates getting rid of the NER, this corrupt Basic Law and the regime French-sytle (ie. where a new constitutions usually does not have legitimacy based on the procedural rules of the previous constitutions). The democratic opposition still wants to win a 2/3s majority under the current election rules and campaign finance situation to achieve the formally legal amendment of the Basic Law. Well, good luck with that. Orban always hated the oh so sophisticated urban intellectuals (SZDSZ), who looked down on this rural bugris. He showed them, however, that if he wants to annihilate them politically then he will do so. And he did. The eventual demise of the liberals (and leftists) strengthened Orban’s original instinctive belief that the leftists/liberals were fundamentally lazy and enfeebled Eloi who are totally unable to stage any resistance. Orban prepared many steps ahead unlike the Hungarian left-wing which never understood properly what was going on in public… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Rumors I’ve been hearing from people close to govt. are that Fidesz has lost support in rural areas too, and would lose the entire country if elections were held no. Rumors are Orban has a “plan”, but if the plan doesn’t work and if he/they are unable to turn public opinion now they are preparing to change the electoral law to “improve” things before 2018 hits them.
As to liberals, right now their biggest fear is that Jobbik is coming after Fidesz. Everywhere people are talking about the possibility.

Temple
Guest

Fidesz was always gonna amend the electoral law if it deemed it necessary. The solution is very easy. Everybody knows.

The system must be proportionate, so that nobody can possibly win a 2/3s. Fidesz’ – and any party’s since 1990 – highest result was in 2010 some 51% if I remember. It’s inconceivable that any one party (or side) could get 66%.

MSZP is on the record of wanting the proportionate system for almost two decades, so they can’t really complain. (Fidesz anyway purchases them somehow.)

But in this way, Orban can prevent any opposition whether from Jobbik or from elsewhere from ever gaining a 2/3s necessary to overturn NER and Orban’s system. And this is the main goal.

Temple
Guest

The next elections will be held in 2018. That’s three years away. I wouldn’t exclude the possibility at all of new parties emerging until then, though Jobbik will be a formidable candidate, that’s for sure.

There’s no need to panic, the liberals should think about themselves and do something ‘liberal’ and not obsess about Fidesz and Jobbik all the time.

One of the things which shows the total defeat and in my view hopelessness of the liberals is their total obsession and fascination with Fidesz and now with Jobbik. They should grow up finally and stop defining their world and themselves via others, alas they never will.

spectator
Guest

One of the fundamental flaw – in my opinion – was/is that the liberal block let Orbán ‘define’ them, let him redefine “liberalism” altogether and it stuck on them. Now the average citizen runs for dear life whenever someone as “liberal” would talk to them.

In Hungary today “liberalism” equals with pedophile jewish transgender communists who made a pact with the devil – usually Gyurcsány will get the role – who will give away ‘our national identity’ for multicultural internationalism, will give up ‘our rightful claim’ for the former territories – and so on, just about everything bad.

Of course, exaggerated, but you’ve heard the most part anyway: this is the Orbanian interpretation of the word “liberal”, and it gained foothold on the subconscious level already everywhere. Get rid of the stigmatisation usually a thousand times harder than apply it, so here we are.

Just a footnote: I am liberal to the core, of course, in the very original meaning of the word.

Kirsten
Guest

About Eva’s topic: I think that what shaped decisions in the early 1990s in Hungary was the belief that (compared to the other Communist countries) relatively few changes had to be made because “so many market elements” were already in place. And that was shared by many on the left and right of the political spectrum. Only Viktor Orban has then changed this interpretation, claiming that a radical change was necessary, even if this is meant radical change of a completely different sort. I think that the starting point was not adequately understood. People were certainly promised to much, and these promises were mainly economic ones, not political goals.

Economics
Guest

@Webber The second industrial revolution (machine building indistry electronics the contemporary high tech) ) did not touched seriously the Bohemian lands. Austrian half of the Empire could preserve its absolute dominance within the empire in the sectors of the first industrial revolution, but Hungary had a better position in the industries of the second industrial revolution, in these modern industrial sectors the Austrian competition could not become dominant. Berend, Ivan T. (2013). Case Studies on Modern European Economy: Entrepreneurship, Inventions, and Institutions. Routledge

I also suggest to read: Max-Stephan Schulze (1996). Engineering and Economic Growth: The Development of Austria-Hungary’s Machine-Building Industry in the Late Nineteenth Century. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Webber
Guest

All I said was, compared with Hungary, the Czech lands were highly industrialized – something you disputed above.

What you have said is silly.

I also pointed out they had a world-beating industrial complex in the Skoda Works – where (among other things) the Skoda LT-35 tanks were built, later renamed by the Nazis who took over the factory the Panzer 35t, and used in the invasion of France and the Soviet Union. When it was developed, prior to WWII, it was a top tank – a technological marvel.

Skoda-built Czech airplanes, saved by Czech pilots who flew them to Britain when the Nazis took over the country, played a vital role in the Battle of Britain.

Skoda industries were top class for their time. Bombing in the Second World War and later communist mismanagement did them in.

So, I suggest you tone it down. You spun a tale of Hungarian industrial superiority. That was wrong. Don’t go into details of industrial development. You are wrong about those too. Get reading – even the works you refer to. You need to. They don’t support what you suggest.

Economics
Guest

Skoda tanks in WW1? Strange. Czechs built their first air planes only after the ww1:) How are Czech pilots related to industrial topics? I proved with academic economy historians and examples that – unlike the Hungarians – Czechs had no success in the modern branches of second industrial revolution before the 1920s. They were only so-called “late-comers” in the modern (second industrial revolution) industry

Webber
Guest

You are getting ever more stupid with every comment.
Where did I say there were Skoda tanks in WWI? Nowhere.
I said they were developed prior to WWII. You do know, don’t you, that there were some years between WWI and WWII?
Airplanes – the Czech planes from the Skoda Works were world-class prior to WWII, and did good service in the war.
Also, you are showing an utter inability to learn when you repeat ad nauseum this idiocy about Czechs having no industrial revolution before the 1920s.
Among other great achievements from prior to WWI, the Skoda Works were the first to build three-gun turrets for warships PRIOR to WWI – and these guns were placed on Tegethoff class ships in the Austro-Hungarian fleet (small though it was). Skoda guns were on the ship Horthy commanded in WWI.
Well before WWI, Skoda built for the Suez Canal and piping for the Niagara Falls Power Plant – the industry was that good: American and British corporations were not chosen for those tenders. Skoda was.

Go read, for God’s sake. Your stupidity and illogic is tiring.

Economics
Guest

Webber, for better understanding I suggest to read the article of second industrial revolution (it is an primary school history curriculum in Hungary):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Industrial_Revolution

The second industrial revolution started in the 1880s-1890s in Western Europe and Hungary, and it started on the Czech lands only after 1920

Webber
Guest

You do realize the Czech lands were part of Austria then, don’t you?
Apparently you aren’t aware of how developed those lands were within the Austrian empire – despite having it shown to you repeatedly.

Economics
Guest

But if you like ww2 era, there are Hungarian designed and produced tanks: (Hungary was not allowed to produce tanks before 1935.)

Webber
Guest

Cute. The Czech-designed tanks were far superior. Certainly the Wehrmacht thought so.

Economics
Guest

pfff Good joke, nothing more. do you think yout these czech light tanks? comment image
comment image
comment image

Economics
Guest

Just compare Czech tanks with Hungarians: (size artillery defence)

Webber
Guest

Oh, yes, the world famous Hungarian tanks of WWII!
The world trembled, the United States considered capitulating, Stalin personally feared for his life when those miracles of Hungarian engineering rumbled onto the battlefield. And Hitler turned green with envy – had forty engineers shot for never producing anything comparable.
We all tremble with joy when we learn about those famous Hungarian tank battles! They were truly decisive. Slava, slava! Hail Hail, the Hungarian tank!

Economics
Guest

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA): History of Flight from Around the World: Hungary article http://www.aiaa.org/Secondary.aspx?id=356

and compare it with czechs contribution in aeronautics :)))

Hungary designed and produced more planes and aeroengines than CZ. Moreover we have world famous inventors and scientist in Aeronautics.

Does Czechs ever built/developed own designed jet propulsion engines before 1945? No!

googly
Guest

Once again, the fact that (according to you) such stone-age morons as the Czechs and the Slovaks are currently kicking the stuffing out of Hungary and leaving us to join the Balkan countries as poor, chaotic, corrupt has-beens must be a painful realisation. I wonder why in the world you insist on making Hungary look even worse than it already does?

Please, stop embarrassing us (and, presumably, yourself). Let’s just agree that the Czechs were way ahead, which is why they are still so far ahead, and that they helped the Slovaks when they were in the same country. That way we can continue to blame our bad luck and circumstances, rather than admit to ourselves that we have made a series of bad decisions and blunders, and are at least partially responsible for our own fate.

Or maybe you yourself are Czech, and are providing lies to make us look bad?

googly
Guest

Webber, how does it feel to have someone misquote you, then not admit it, no matter how many times s/he is challenged to do so? Now that you’ve seen this from the other side, I wonder if you plan to apologise to me. I doubt it, of course, but maybe you’ll surprise me.

Webber
Guest

Googly, if I hurt your feelings, I apologize.

Webber
Guest

What you have proven is that you have not read a damned thing you recommend others read, that you do not know how to cite sources, and that you have absolutely no knowledge of the economic history of Central Europe. That is precisely what you have proven.

Economics
Guest

Than (according to you) economic historian professor Max-Stephan Schulze and Ivan Berend do not know much about Central European economic history too :))) My I ask, what is your university degree? :))))

Webber
Guest

You misquoted everyone you’ve brought up. Don’t pretend Schulze or Berend are the ones I’ve disagreed with.
I am calling you, personally, more than wrong. Apparently you believe that saying it makes it so.The people you cite don’t say what you do. It’s nobody else. Just you.

Economics
Guest

Than please prove with facts that Czechs have serious second industrial revolution brach factories and firms. How many light bulb telephone AC generator turbogenerators transformer and factories were in Czechia before 1920? You had only one very very little car automotive firm, Hungary had 4 (cars autobuses cabs lorries etc). How many large foreign western cities were electrified by czech companies? 0 zero. How many trams, subway trains, electric locomotive firms were in Czechia before 1920?? How many aeroengine factories or aeroplane factories were in Czechia before 1920? I did not mention oceanliners dreadnought class battleships or diesel-electric submarines , because Czechs had no seaports….

Webber
Guest

“You had only one very very little car automotive firm… ”
I have never had any.
How many do you have?

Guest

Who but a few loonie trolls cares what was in 1920?
What does Hungary have now?
Just look at South Korea’s industry today – what did they have in 1920?
You are one of those Tiszta Magyar who thinks that they are the best?
Well, prove it!
Your rantings remind me of my grandmother’s saying;
If we didn’t have you and the large potatoes – we’d have to eat the smaller ones …

Webber
Guest

Well, the odd historian cares.. But otherwise, you’re right. It is nuts (and I’m afraid we ran out of the large potatoes).

spectator
Guest
God in those friggin’ heavens! Are you guys – well, you playing with tanks anyway – seriously think that somehow deciding today which is those outdated craps were any way better than the other one would have any impact now? Come on, please! We (Hungarians – just to be precise) could have performed better, we could have reached higher levels both economically and intellectually – but we didn’t! And now the hard part: This is only our fault! Nobody else but the Hungarians are responsible for our misfortune, NOBODY ELSE TO BLAME! If we would have put at least as much effort into working for the common good, for the common interest as we wasted on chewing each-other’s throat, we certainly could have been the leading force of the region – but we didn’t! If we would look forward and aimed for the future instead of circling around historical misfortunes, dwelling over lost glory and all that obsolete crap, we certainly could have gained honest respect and recognition of the others – but we didn’t! Instead of we working hard to prove to the world just how backward and inadequate bunch of self-pitying morons we really are, supporting the very… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

I am also amazed about the importance of whether or not the Czech lands were strongly involved in a “second industrial revolution”. No relevance for today. With all this boasting of “Economics”, one wonders why Hungary has never made it into the club of rich countries. With such brillance, it should have been a cinch.

Economics
Guest

Czechs and Slovaks are not part of the “club of riches”. (As we Hungarians say: Álmodik a nyomor) Even their general infrastructure is more backward.

wpDiscuz