Fidesz and gender inequality

A fascinating article appeared yesterday in 24.hu about József Szájer’s voting habits in the EU parliament. István Ujhelyi, an MSZP member of the EU parliament, noticed that Szájer, who is one of the nine vice-chairmen of the European People’s Party (EPP), often refrains from voting, although he is the one who instructs members of EPP to vote for or against an issue. Szájer explained that he, as vice-chair of EPP, in order to avoid self-contradiction, refrains from voting when the Fidesz caucus within the EPP cannot support the delegation’s majority decision. Thus, from Szájer’s non-votes one gets a fair idea of how often Fidesz members stray from the majority opinion. The resulting count revealed that in the last two years there have been 58 occasions when Szájer had to resort to this practice, which means that for the EPP leadership the Fidesz caucus must be a royal pain in the neck. It’s no wonder that a few months ago there was talk of their expulsion from the delegation.

A careful study of those issues on which Fidesz went against its own delegation is by itself a fascinating undertaking. No one will be surprised to hear that many of the contrary votes were about issues connected to migration. But the Fidesz delegation also went against the majority opinion on anything related to Turkey. Fidesz members didn’t quite dare to vote against the resolution condemning the repressive measures introduced by President Erdoğan; instead, they consistently abstained on all issues related to Turkey. The same was true of any piece of legislation connected to the rights of NGOs.

József Szájer at work / MTI / Photo: László Beliczay

Given the Orbán government’s views on migration, its outright friendly relations with Turkey, and its antagonism toward NGOs, none of these “nay” votes or abstentions is surprising. What is startling, however, is the Fidesz MEPs’ consistent anti-women stance. Fidesz MEPs either vote against or abstain when gender equality is at stake. In April of this year they abstained when the European Parliament approved the Arena report on female poverty. They did the same when it was the question of the Kuneva report on domestic workers. They also abstained on accepting the Honeyball report on sexual exploitation and prostitution. All this hasn’t gone unnoticed, and István Ujhelyi learned that the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) will send a delegation to Hungary soon to learn more about the situation on the spot. A similar delegation visited Poland just lately, and therefore I assume that the trip to Hungary is not far off. I should mention that FEMM has only one Hungarian member, Jobbik’s Krisztina Morvai.

Here are some of the women-related issues on which Fidesz members voted “nay” or abstained: (1) supporting girls’ education in the EU, (2) the implementation of the principle of equal opportunity and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, (3) the enforcement of gender equality in the work of the European Parliament, (4) strengthening gender equality and women’s rights in the digital age, (5) preventing and combating human trafficking and defending the victims, (6) the development of labor market conditions favorable to a balance between work and private life, (7) the promotion of gender equality in mental health and clinical research, (8) the Report on Equality between men and women in the European Union—2014-2016, and (9) the Report on EU subsidies for promoting gender equality. As you can see, they wouldn’t even support the fight against human trafficking or research on the mental health of women.

What emerges from this list is a consistent and deliberate government policy against anything that would promote gender equality. It is not just Viktor Orbán’s ambivalent feelings toward women in politics, as expressed a couple of years ago at his meeting with students. And it is certainly not the delicate nature of women that would make them unsuitable for political life in Hungary, as Orbán claimed at the time. It is a hard political decision. As long as Viktor Orbán and his ilk are in power in Hungary, the situation of Hungarian women will not improve. Mind you, as far as the number of women in politics is concerned, the situation wasn’t exactly rosy even before 2010. Their numbers in parliament have been hovering around 9-10%. Hungary is close to the bottom of a list of 189 countries comparing the percentage of women in the legislative process. It is among countries like Gambia, Samoa, Botswana, and Belize. Nothing to be proud of. But at the same time Hungarians, on the whole, share Viktor Orbán’s belief that the reason for the scarcity of women in parliament is their unsuitability for the profession.

Hungarian women don’t fare well in general. The European Institute for Gender Equality, an EU agency situated in Lithuania, published its latest report on gender equality in the European Union. Since 2005 three such reports were published, and the report noted that progress in this area has proceeded at a “snail’s pace” in general.

The report ranked all 28 states on an index score from one to 100 in terms of work, money, knowledge, time, power, and health. It also looked into the issue of violence. Sweden heads the list with an overall score of 82.6, followed by Denmark (76.8), Finland (73), and the Netherlands (72.9). At the bottom is Greece with a score of 50. And where is Hungary? Second to last with a score of 50.8. Over time scores increased in most member states, though some were stagnant (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Finland, Slovakia). There were, however, a few that managed to lose ground: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Spain, and the UK. The 2017 interactive equality index is available online.

Hungary’s low scores were predictable, as was the fact that in the last few years Hungarian scores have decreased. The worst score Hungary received was in the political, economic, and social power category. Here are some figures: for women’s political power Hungary received a score of 14.3, while the EU average is 52.7. That put Hungary last on the list. The same is true of women’s social power (20.9). Hungary did somewhat better in the economic sphere, where the EU average is 39.5 and Hungary received a score of 22.1. That better score, however, didn’t make up for the very low scores in the other two categories, and thus Hungary ended up at the bottom of the list with an overall score of 18.7 as opposed to 48.5 for the 28 member states.

It is depressing to see Hungary at the bottom or very close to the bottom in comparative lists. It is especially jarring in light of the constant bragging of Fidesz politicians about the fantastic achievements of the country. I wonder when the people of Hungary will notice that something has gone very wrong and that a better future is not likely any time soon.

October 14, 2017
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dos929
Guest

Hungary may be amongst the last in many areas of the political, social and other key areas of societies in the EU, however it is first in government corruption and corruption at large in nearly every aspect of life in Hungary… To those ‘happy tourist’ coming to Budapest the real Hungary is rarely seen behind the otherwise beautiful city and the beauty and culture that was inherited from the past, but not enhanced by this regime. Thus, the poverty, women’s rights or any other ills of Hungary are hidden from the world…

Gretchen
Guest

The tourists see the homeless everywhere. Them or their carefully stowed cardboard bedding.

Guest

“The tourists see the homeless everywhere.”
Yes, and the Hungarians don’t see them. There is no help for the unseen.

Ferenc
Guest

Merre fújnak OV&Co? Ki fog kapni a szél? Mit fog kapni Szél B.?
To where are OV&Co blowing? Who will catch the wind? What will catch Szél B.?

“reason for the scarcity of women in parliament is their unsuitability for the profession”
Considering how OV&Co are handling the democratically elected HU parliament: Anybody can name a female autocrat/dictator?

bimbi
Guest

Orbán and the whole Fidesznik klan see themselves, blindly, as puszta-bred alpha males. Their disdain for women, Hungarian women and the whole Hungarian electorate stands open to view. They are not interested in a better Hungary for all, but only a richer Hungary for themselves.

What a voting record. Time to lance the boil on the backside of the European Union (and of the Republic of Hungary)!

bimbi
Guest

The stodgy dog-in-a-manger conservatism in Hungary contrasts negatively with the optimistic view of neighbor Romania’s economic boom:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/14/romania-economy-booming

I suppose that Hungary’s Orbán and Várga (is he still the economics minister?) confuse theft with economic growth, but they would, wouldn’t
they?

:Bastiat2
Guest

Well, from my own experience, a pretty young woman can walk the streets of Budapest or ride the underground without being harassed or molested in the slightest.
One cannot says the same in many Western capitals, especially those with many moslem young men, starved for sex by their religion.
There seem to be also quite a large number of female teachers or professors as well as female medical doctors. There may be few MPs, but that is the case in many Latin countries always a little -if not a lot- macho, like Italy.

Ferenc
Guest

What ‘experience’ do you have in ‘western capitols’?
More than only M1 bogus news reports?
I personally have been and will be walking in many West-European cities, where ever I like, without EVER having experienced any of the BS you are writing!
Please get yourself some real life info before ever writing such nonsense again, and there with GET LOST and BASTA!!

Ferenc
Guest

Fresh Hungarian news for you – “An elderly woman killed in Zsambok” (some 30km east of Bp)
https://444.hu/2017/10/15/megoltek-egy-idos-not-zsambokon

Ferenc
Guest

More fresh news – “The mayor of Tyukod constantly harasses and threatens the women in his staff” (near the HU-RO border) – https://444.hu/2017/10/14/folyamatosan-zaklatja-es-fenyegeti-ot-es-munkatarsait-a-tyukodi-polgarmester-a-helyi-anyakonyvvezeto-szerint

Ferenc
Guest

Fresh from the same page –
“Actress Lilla Sárosdi told how a known HU director molested her” (now coming out, because of US Weinstein case) – https://444.hu/2017/10/14/sarosdi-lilla-elmeselte-hogyan-molesztalta-20-eve-egy-ismert-rendezo

Reality Check
Guest

In Hungary you will find women very quickly hit a glass ceiling in business and most other professions. While some 40% of low-level managers are women, very few are upper-level mangement. Same is true in academia. In 2014 fewer than 20% of women were full professors. Opinion polls consistently show that the average Hungarian doesn’t think women are suitable for leadership roles.

Member

:Bastiat2 – are you, or have you ever been a young woman? Ask any young woman and you will hear that women do experience harassment everywhere. Some of those who harass women in the “Western capitals” are immigrants from Muslim countries, but many are not. Being an asshole is, sadly enough, independent of religion or ethnic background.
Remember what happened in Leipzig, or how it was reported in Hungarian state media (Eva wrote about it here: http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/07/30/hungarian-state-media-about-life-in-the-west-what-happened-in-leipzig/ )? After those strange statements about the chaos on the streets of Leipzig which are (as Hungarian trolls like you claimed) ruled by those terrible violent and sex-starved “migrants”, comments from Hungarians living in Leipzig started flooding to the editors of 444.hu (see https://444.hu/2017/07/28/lipcsei-magyarok-sem-ertik-mifele-migransoruletrol-beszel-a-magyar-vivoszovetseg-fotitkara ). One young woman wrote: “I have lived in Leipzig since last year’s autumn, and as a young Hungarian girl, I feel definitely more safe than in Budapest. During the last ten months, I have experienced less harassment than at home during one single sunny afternoon.”

Guest

And not too much OT:
In Cologne which according to the right wing crazies had so many attacks on women by refugees and had to be declared a no-go zone the AfD only got about 5% of the votes- so obviously the locals know more about what really happened. This story of New Year’s Eve was a (really bad of course) one-time incident and nothing comparable happened since then.

Member

Noted US-New Zealand academic James Flynn found that women and men are basically equal in terms of IQ, but women may score just a notch higher than males because of what he calls “characterological traits” such as the ability to focus.

If this is also true for Hungarian genders – in fact, let’s give the women a couple of extra points because Hungarian men drink far greater quantities than women – it is no wonder that so few women win seats in Parliament. Anyone smart enough to do the job wouldn’t want it.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201207/men-women-and-iq-setting-the-record-straight

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Example of level of reporting by HU state/public media
*TV report 2017.Oct.13 in M1 news broadcastscomment image
NEWS: discussion in front of the Soros-University [Echo TV recording]

*Same report on hirado (=news) website:
“Flaming discussion in front of the Soros-University, one microphone stayed on”
http://www.hirado.hu/2017/10/13/parazs-vita-a-soros-egyetem-elott-egy-mikrofon-is-bekapcsolva-maradt/

My observations (without going into the ‘storm in a teacup’ contents):
-state/public media (still) don’t have the decency to call the CEU by it’s real name
-seems very important to report this: 2minutes TV report in all news broadcasts, even the short late evening version (23hr-15min)
-indicating a strong connection between Echo TV (from OV’s Oligarch Meszaros) and the HU state/public media (note: haven’t seen any such used reports from other private media in M1 hirado!)
-currently there are rumours that the CEU – Lex CEU problems will soon be solved, well recommended to not hold your breath!!

PS: recommend to foreign media to really start monitoring and internationally reporting about the level of journalistic quality of the HU state/public media

Ferenc
Guest

Checked again 2017.Mar.13 M1 news, just before above item, was a 1min item about the extension of the deadline (with one year, till from 2019.Jan.01), in it was a quote from the Minister of Justice at his “special press conference”. He brought the news and also specifically mentioned CEU (by it’s real name!).

Member

“recommend to foreign media to really start monitoring and internationally reporting about the level of journalistic quality of the HU state/public media.”

Nobody outside Hungary gives a toss. Another difficulty is that some jpurnalists who work for foreign media have family and close friends who earn their living at slipshod domestic news outlets. This includes both Fidesz- and MSZP-controlled outlets. They do NOT want to rock the boat.

Ferenc
Guest

Hopefully our comments combined get them moving…
Furthermore, if they move, recommended to send experienced reporters without any previous connections to Hungary into the country (also needed then a good and reliable translator, i.e.one without his own agenda)!

wrfree
Guest

With that arm and thumb position of the contortionist Mr. Sazjer we should get an idea of where domestic violence legislation tends to go into God’s country. With voting like that no wonder the ‘hits’ keep coming.

Member

An excellent article and good to see something on a social topic as well as just the ins and outs of autocratic skullduggery. It is very very sad that Hungary could go so far backwards on the sexism front, but perhaps not altogether surprising. Let us hope it doesn’t go even further backwards for too many years before things – maybe, someday – improve.

Member

In my daughters’ school Hungarian literature textbooks explained how women are more genetically different from man than primates, with separate exercises and readings for girls and boys. Education is about the traditional gender roles. Hungarian girls do not have the same opportunities as boys. Hungary is a misogynist society, and if anything, worse so than at the end of Kádár times.
Got the kids the hell out of the country b/c they deserve a better future.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Hungary is a misogynist society’

The ‘interactive quality index’ score for the country would seem to bear that out where it’s an 18.5 for female ‘power’.

And on the country’s attitude toward domestic violence I find it extremely disconcerting that it apparently has a difficult time controlling it. I mean to have women continually in the position of being virtual punching bags is really way out on the pugilistic scale. It’s sort of beyond ken that the society just simply condones it. The cost to communities must be very damaging not only in the physical sense but the psychological one as well.

Paola Tamma
Guest

hello – I am a reporter, writing an article on reform in the Hungarian education system (mostly focusing on the rewriting of the inter-war period, but also touching upon issues including gender stereotyping). If you would like to get in touch and explain the issues you encountered in the textbooks you mention, please answer here. thank you

Joe the plumber
Guest

Could you please post a picture of the exercises you mentioned (enough just the most offensive stuff – where it insinuates that women are sub-human) or link to where it can be found. Many thanks.

Equality or Privileges?
Guest
Equality or Privileges?

In this video Róbert Puzsér has a debate with a feminist about feminism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTkGdG5-mLk

Istvan
Guest

Peter Pomerantsev his book “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible” about contemporary Russia discusses the degenerative impact rampant sexism has had on culture in Russia. I see similar things in Hungary but it is rarely discussed in the Hungarian media. Budapest is packed with prostitution, both legal and extralegal. The sex trade industry is prodigious and it also requires the on going subjugation of women to continue at a high and profitable level.

So there is an unfortunate economic dimension to all of this, just like the Harvey Winestein story in the USA and our history of the so called casting couch see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casting_couch .

wrfree
Guest

Real sleazy stuff. From the looks of things regarding Weinsten he’s made many who had a run-in with him to take on the Howard Beale persona from the film ‘Network’. It appears that in unison everybody’s like him yelling… ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!!’

Marty
Guest
“I wonder when the people of Hungary will notice that something has gone very wrong and that a better future is not likely any time soon.” People did realize that something has gone horribly wrong – but they gave up and they blame others. Those who didn’t give up emigrated. Propaganda works and people blame others such as the liberals, the EU, the jews, the migrants, Soros etc. etc. not the government. And to the extent voters blame Orban for the failures of Hungary, people think the opposition is just too clueless, too hopeless – which is of course very much the result of the general political climate, Fidesz’ machinations and corruption. People do realize that the situation is bad, very bad. But they don’t trust the opposition enough to give them power. Fidesz cut (some) taxes and people fear the lefties will increase taxes etc. People also fear that the government will only be infighting, that it will lack decisiveness, that it will bring back “liberalism”. This is a time when tough, resolute decisions are needed not setting up another expert committees which would debate everything to death. Voters also think the left hasn’t worked diligently enough during opposition,… Read more »
Member

“People think the opposition is just too clueless, too hopeless – which is of course very much the result of the general political climate, Fidesz’ machinations and corruption.”

True, true, but then there’s also the fact that the opposition actually is too clueless, too hopeless. The exception, like it or not, is Jobbik, and their poll numbers have surprisingly taken a hit of late. The more strong-armed Jobbik appears, the more their numbers sag.

Marty
Guest

Re Jobbik

There’s been a propaganda campaign against Jobbik targeting mainly pensioners. It’s been effective. It’s a bit more low key than the anti-Soros campaign but still it’s serious.

The Fidesz media empire repeats made up stories day after day about how – once in power – Jobbikniks “would take revenge against the elderly”, that Jobbikniks “hate and disrespect the retired people”, that Vona “offended the pensioners and must apologize”, etc.

I talk to elderly people and they are absolutely abhorred by Jobbik’s “treatment of the elderly”. Elderly voters absolutely believe the propaganda and they are terrified that the Jobbik would take away their pensions and would persecute them. I’m not kidding.

Propaganda works. I don’t know why liberals ever thought it wasn’t gonna work but it does.

Member

That’s how Bosnian nationalists remain in power, too.

I was unaware Fidesz had started such a campaign. Thanks for the info.

Member

Kettos Merce had an entertaining take on today’s topic. The article compares the number of men named “Laszlo” in Parliament and at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to the number of women in both institutions.

http://kettosmerce.blog.hu/2016/05/16/laszlobol_vagy_nobol_van_tobb_a_politikai_es_tudomanyos_elitben_hat_persze_hogy_lacibol

Guest

Not totally OT:
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood was at the Frankfurt bookfair last week to get the “Freedom Prize” of the German booksellers’ association and she gave a scating talk on Trump and his people who also want a return to the 19th Century.
And her “Handmaid’s Tale” seems to become very popular on tv – just like G R R Martin’s series.

Yesterday I drove to Germany via Austria – the country was full with small election billboards showing similar propaganda to the Hungarian right’s with crazy slogans about Islamization etc …
I had a bad feeling and yes, the right wing got much stronger in Austria …
Funny in a way that the FPÖ once was a liberal party (many, many years ago) just like Fidesz.
The good news:
At least in Germany in the local parliament in Lower Saxonia (Hannover and the North Sea country) the right wing AfD stays an unimportant minority and the Social Democrats the strongest party by far.

Joe the plumber
Guest

I quite agree that quotas should be introduced to attract women to political discussion. Éva can lead the way by only showing a comment from a male commenter if it is countered by a female viewpoint.
In fact, it would be interesting to get a breakdown of the members of this political blog by sex. It seems that the vast majority of regular commenters here are men but maybe women are also proportionately represented in the membership but don’t have such a big ego and don’t comment quite so much. Just a thought.

Member

Remember the blind komondor, and numerous other famous cases of more or less tolerated violence and harassment? On Saturday, RTL Klub broadcast the story of a woman working as a registrar in a small settlement in northeastern Hungary (http://rtl.hu/rtlklub/hirek/zaklatta-a-polgarmester-meglepodtem-hogy-ezt-meg-meri-velem-tenni). She had been sexually harassed by the mayor (and, says she, the same thing had happened to many of her predecessors) who threatened to get both her and her daughter (who works at the local kindergarten) sacked. So far, there have been no consequences for the mayor, the police seems to do nothing, this workplace – like most others in Hungary – has no anti-harassment policies, and in social media, the story has provoked numerous victim-bashing and misogynic comments. “Nőkért Egyesület” has now initiated a petition to support her and express her that many people believe her and are on her side: https://www.peticiok.com/kiallunk_nemeth_palma_mellett .

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