Author Archives: Eva S. Balogh

Kim Lane Scheppele: Hungary and the State of American Democracy

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University doesn’t need an introduction to the readers of  Hungarian Spectrum or to anyone who is interested in Hungarian constitutional law or politics. Here is her take on the hearing held by Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Usually, I write about the dismal state of Hungarian democracy.   But today, I will write about the dismal state of American democracy.

I went to Washington Tuesday to attend the hearing … Read the rest

Congressmen not at their best: Hearing on U.S.-Hungarian relations

Year after year the approval rating of the U.S. Congress is abysmally low. In 2012 Huffington Post reported on the findings of a Gallup poll that showed that “Americans are about as likely to trust members of Congress as they are car salespeople.” A year later Public Policy Polling found that “Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and even Nickelback.” After watching the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats on U.S.-Hungarian relations, I understand why. It was one of the most disheartening scenes … Read the rest

The Christian, national government’s heart is merciful: Orbán in Strasbourg

I just finished listening to the hearing on “The Future of U.S-Hungary Relations” organized by the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. I’m not yet ready to comment on it, except to say that it was an excellent forum for the Republicans to criticize the Obama administration’s foreign policy and to applaud Viktor Orbán.

Hungary was also the topic of another debate today, this time in Strasbourg in the plenary session of the European Parliament. It was only yesterday that Viktor Orbán announced his intention to attend in order … Read the rest

Who are the chosen ones? The use of historical names in today’s Hungary

As soon as Viktor Orbán triumphantly returned as prime minister, this time with a two-thirds majority, the new administration began to obliterate those street names that honored people who could be associated with the Kádár regime or the Soviet Union. Actually, by this time not too many such street names had survived; most of the objectionable ones had been changed already in the early 1990s. They overlooked a few, though. For example, in 1993 I was surprised to see that in Pécs there was still a Zója utca, named after … Read the rest

Bálint Hóman is rehabilitated

Among the best-known Hungarian historians of the twentieth century were “Hóman-Szekfű.” The two last names grew together, something like Ilf-Petrov or Gilbert and Sullivan. They were the authors of a monumental eight-volume history of Hungary, published between 1928 and 1941. The first three volumes were written by the renowned medievalist Bálint Hóman (1885-1951), the other four by Gyula Szekfű (1883-1955). The last volume contains a detailed index. Although Hóman-Szekfű is available online today, I’m still thrilled that I managed to buy a set in the late sixties in Budapest.

Both … Read the rest

Some effects of the “reforms” on Hungarian public education

Yesterday I read with astonishment the following sentences in one of Viktor Orbán’s latest speeches, delivered at the future site of a sports complex to house the 2017 world aquatics championships:

When we talk about the Hungarian government’s commitment to sports … we are actually talking about the future of Hungary, about our children, about our grandchildren, about those Hungarians who will be living here when we are no more. We live in a crazy world in which it is not easy to bring up members of the younger generation,

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My two posts on Eleni Kounalakis’s book about her years in Budapest as U.S. ambassador elicited a great many comments. In fact, the debate continues among the active commenters to Hungarian Spectrum. Some were very harsh on the United States for not taking a stronger stance against the growing manifestations of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s antidemocratic measures. Others correctly pointed out that no country has the right to tell another one what to do and what not to do. The blame, these people argued, lies with the Hungarian electorate … Read the rest