My visit to the Center for European Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville

You may have noticed that I wasn’t around in the last couple of days. Alice Freifeld, director of  the University of Florida’s Center for European Studies, invited me to deliver the keynote address at a conference on “The Right to Know: Privacy vs. Transparency in the U.S. and the EU” yesterday.

bread and breakfast

The hallway of Magnolia Plantation where some of us were put up while staying at the University of Florida in Gainesville

Professors of law, political science, history, and journalism collaborated in a crowded but thoroughly enjoyable program. We started at 8:30 in the morning and didn’t finish until about 5 p.m., with a short break for lunch. I learned a lot from the panelists.

My hour-long talk was scheduled for 11:45, and I was pleased to see that a rather sizable crowd had gathered to hear what I had to say. It turned out that some of them are regular readers of Hungarian Spectrum.

The University of Florida has an international student body and faculty. I was picked up at the airport by a recent Ph.D. originally from Romania, Magda Giurcanu. Edit Nagy, a lecturer in the Hungarian language program, is also a recent Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She drove me to Alice Freifeld’s house for dinner. One of her students is a young American who took me to the airport this morning. She has been studying Hungarian for the last three years. She plans to write her Ph.D. dissertation on the status of sports stars during the Rákosi and Kádár regimes. A good topic. After all, these people had all sorts of  benefits (material and otherwise) as opposed to ordinary Hungarians.

Alice Freifeld’s major academic interest is Hungarian history. I must say she speaks Hungarian very well. In fact, she spent a semester at the Eötvös Lóránd University (ELTE) in 1972. Her book on Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848-1914 (2000) received the Barbara Jelavich and the Hungarian Studies Association and Hungarian Chair of Indiana University book awards. But Professor Freifeld was not the only one who knew Hungarian among the panelists. In fact, we were somewhat overrepresented. Jason Wittenberg, associate professor of political science at Berkeley, also knows Hungarian. One of the panelists was Gábor Halmai, professor of law at ELTE’s Law School who at the moment is a visiting research scholar at Princeton University. Gábor and I knew about each other but had never met in person.

Our hosts were really fantastic. We were put up in beautifully refurbished Victorian houses that now serve as bed and breakfasts. Breakfast was fine, but even better was the unadvertised “cocktail hour” wine and hors d’oeuvres. Yesterday three of us who stayed at the Magnolia Plantation had a hilariously good time exchanging notes about each other’s experiences in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Including the usual question to me about “and how did you escape?”

Now, I just have to catch up with news on Hungary.

Advertisements

41 comments

  1. I’m glad the crocodiles didn’t get you 🙂 This is what I like to hear. Intelligent people taking interest in Hungary. I’m happy you had a great time!

  2. Eva, What was the goal of the conference? What do they try to achieve? Will their “findings” be published? Is this a lobby organization? Were participants interested about the “Hungarian situation”? Was Hungary discussed separately? I am sorry, I know I have lot of questions, but the whole conference sounds very interesting.

  3. OT. Matolcsy started to destroy the MNB
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/06/uk-hungary-centralbank-deputy-idUKBRE9350A720130406
    Reuters) – “A deputy governor of Hungary’s central bank has said she abstained from voting on the bank’s economic stimulus plan this week because she was only given 35 minutes to read the 40-page document before it was debated and put to a vote in the bank’s Monetary Council.”
    She is the only one on the panel who was not selected by Orban. Unfortunately my feeling is that she just digged out her own grave, as the article later says “On Friday, when asked about the amount of time the panel had been given to study the stimulus measures, the central bank’s press office emailed Reuters to say: “The agenda of the meetings of the Monetary Council is not public, the proposals on its agenda are classified.”
    At any case the stimulus passed and the Central Bank will spend 10% of its reserve to provide 2% interest loans to various companies. I do not dare to ask who will be the owners of those companies will be.

  4. Dear Eva!

    I am rather curious about the last sentence of your article. What did you mean by “and how did you escape?” If you please, clarify it for me.

    Thank you: Ilana.

  5. Some1 :
    OT. Matolcsy started to destroy the MNB
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/06/uk-hungary-centralbank-deputy-idUKBRE9350A720130406
    Reuters) – “A deputy governor of Hungary’s central bank has said she abstained from voting on the bank’s economic stimulus plan this week because she was only given 35 minutes to read the 40-page document before it was debated and put to a vote in the bank’s Monetary Council.”
    She is the only one on the panel who was not selected by Orban. Unfortunately my feeling is that she just digged out her own grave, as the article later says “On Friday, when asked about the amount of time the panel had been given to study the stimulus measures, the central bank’s press office emailed Reuters to say: “The agenda of the meetings of the Monetary Council is not public, the proposals on its agenda are classified.”
    At any case the stimulus passed and the Central Bank will spend 10% of its reserve to provide 2% interest loans to various companies. I do not dare to ask who will be the owners of those companies will be.

    Ah ha – this is what my father-in-law was boasting about the other day. He was so proud that Hungary was “doing the same thing the English have done”.

    He also referred to Simor as “that traitorous communist Jew”, although my wife forgot to translate that bit. But even my Hungarian is up to understanding that particular phrase. When I asked my wife about this she was at least embarrassed about her father’s choice of words, but quickly recovered to point out that, whatever Simor was or wasn’t he was certainly a traitor because “he had done so much damage to Hungary”. And, of course, the minute he left “his friends” had provided him with a cushy job in the EU. You could clearly see where his loyalties lay.

    It’s madness, but the Fideszniks believe it. And, as I’m always saying – this is what we’re up against.

  6. Ilona Hooper :
    Dear Eva!
    I am rather curious about the last sentence of your article. What did you mean by “and how did you escape?” If you please, clarify it for me.
    Thank you: Ilana.

    Ilona. You have misspelled your own name …

  7. Oh, and when I pointed out that Matolcsy was a bad choice as governor because he had no background in, or knowledge of, economics, her father retorted that of course he did, he’d been Minister for the Economy…

    If it wasn’t so bloody depressing, it would be funny.

  8. OK. Plenty of smart people.
    While the Hungary is in ruins.
    The walls of Europe are breached again by the barbarians.
    The future is bleak.
    The dissidents of Hungary and Europe are called to the barricades again to defend us.

  9. Éva, those defending the Orbán regime do not understand irony. They are as the Germans say “bierernst” deadly serious.
    It is nice of you to share with us your experience as a lecturer in Florida. My wife says “Politik ist nicht abendfüllend” “Politics is not taking up the whole evening”. So it is good that you took your trip to Florida.

    The dissidents of Hungary and Europe are called to the barricades again to defend us.

    No it is the Hungarian people to decide. And if the majority wants Orbán and his ilk to govern another four years, then Orbán will be the prime-minister until 2018. In that case Orbán could be made the king of Hungary. After all he had the crown moved to parliament when he was first time prime minister. The only problem with being a king is the fact that until now all the kings of Hungary were catholics. Orbán could convert and become a catholic. He could be nominated without converting the successor of Miklós Horthy.
    Probably Hungarians deserve a better future.

  10. @Mutt,

    How can you call a gator a crocodile?

    Gators are much more peaceful. The university owns a lake. On one side of the lake, students swim and enjoy nature. On the other side, gators try to catch a suntan.
    They would never swim over to the human side.

  11. London via Gyor (still!) Calling!

    Yes Eva – we were a bit suspicious that you had deserted us! Welcome back – your ‘Victoriana picture’ has made me homesick!

    Maybe you might share with us some of your talk – the relevant Hungary bit?

    Karl I have seen the crown in Parliament – on a cold chaotic visit recently – and St Stephen’s crown looked very impressive. Guarded by goose-stepping guards – which I thought was a bit unnecessary. There’s enough electronics (and glass!) on it to protect it.

    I think we should put our ‘Mace’ on show like this – it’s kept in Parliament and represents the authority of the queen. But not on show like St Stephen’s crown.

    And yes – I think King Orban is in the making as you suggest – I believe he wants to occupy the Buda castle as his official residence.

    I was at the castle when Pal Schmitt resigned – with the very relaxed guards watching me do a faux ‘security routine’ using their unoccupied sentry boxes! (Their boxes are equipped with fan heaters!)

    And the sign saying that it was the official residence of the President, still referred to ‘The Republic of Hungary’

    Yes! Hail O King of Hungary! Alleluya!

    Regards

    Charlie

  12. Ilona Hooper :

    Dear Eva!

    I am rather curious about the last sentence of your article. What did you mean by “and how did you escape?” If you please, clarify it for me.

    Thank you: Ilana.

    Easy! How did I manage to escape after the 1956 revolution. So, I had to tell the whole story which is actually rather amusing.

  13. tappanch :
    @Mutt,
    How can you call a gator a crocodile?
    Gators are much more peaceful. The university owns a lake. On one side of the lake, students swim and enjoy nature. On the other side, gators try to catch a suntan.
    They would never swim over to the human side.

    Yes, but they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays. lol

  14. @Karl, Although I agree that a nation is responsible for its own undoing, I do have a problem with forcing the will of majority on those who are members of the same society not by choice but by birth. What I am saying that when you immigrate to a country you should confirm to its morals and standards, but when you born into that country and your parents and so forth born there, you should not be forced into hardship. Under hardship I mean moral, ethical, as well as economical hardship. THese are all choices that those make who are totally misguided by Fidesz. How can a Jew feel safe and feel at home when, as Paul described, people blame Orban and his incompetent bunch’ doing on the Jews. (Simor who tries to bankrupt the country…..) It was also the Third Reich will to abandon and prosecute its own citizens. If it would happen again today, should the whole word stand by as it was the majority’s will? Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is happening in Hungary today or the near future. I do not think that the EU is innocent if it allows this to happen, quite the contrary!

  15. Accuse the Orbans day in and day out, for terrorizing Hungary with this football hooligan regime.
    Accuse his secret supporters, who ruined the free Hungary, to gain access to the finances.
    Accuse him for driving a dagger into the EU democracies.
    Do support all demonstration against this regime.
    Do support the towering hero, Dr. Ferenc Donath, and his Nagy Imre Tarsasag and the upright citizens around Gyurcsany, Bajnai, Mila, E2014 etc.
    We need all decent men and women on the barricades.

  16. OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
    Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
    SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

  17. @Some1

    1.
    owners of CBA chain —-> Fidesz
    owners of CBA chain —-> Goy Motorists

    While Rogan condemns the anti-Semitic motorcyclist march, Orban is silent as usual, and it has plenty of support inside the Fidesz leadership.

    2.
    What is a dil?
    “they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays”

  18. tappanch

    tappanch :
    @Some1
    1.
    owners of CBA chain —-> Fidesz
    owners of CBA chain —-> Goy Motorists
    While Rogan condemns the anti-Semitic motorcyclist march, Orban is silent as usual, and it has plenty of support inside the Fidesz leadership.
    2.
    What is a dil?
    “they ate a small dog on the golf course where my dil plays”

    1. Isn’t that the guy who got some awards recently from Fidesz?
    2. Actually it should of been fil -> father in law.
    Thanks CharlieH, fil was autocorrected to dil, but you are right dil would of been daughter in law.

  19. @Some1

    Vilmos Lazar, part owner of CBA received the state award of “Magyar Érdemrend Tisztikeresztje” on March 14, alongside with

    Tamas Fricz, co-founder of the pro-Fidesz “peace march”,

    Kornel Bakay, who organized a pro-Szalasi exhibition several years ago and

    several all right people.

  20. @ tappanch, yes I was aware of the disgraceful awards. I remember when we were discussing the mental health of Szaniszlo, with his Jewish conspiracy rants, who also received the award. I remember you were mentioning the Goy Motorists, I wasn’t sure about of this is the same person.

  21. some1: ” Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is happening in Hungary today or the near future.”

    For what exactly? That 2,709,292 Hungarians voted for Fidesz in free elections, which sufficed for a 2/3 majority in parliament? Or that the government still enjoys the support of a sufficiently large group of people so that they will win also the next elections? Or that those people who are opposed to Fidesz and who could be even numerous enough to achieve a replacement of the government in the next elections, so these people are so divided that undecided voters prefer “stability”? Or that there are apparently large crowds only waiting to do any dubious action in support of the government (for “gains”) that other people feel that they “cannot do anything”? Or that “zsidozas” is considered natural and not offending?

    I think that many people outside of Hungary think that the biggest mistake that the EU made is to admit countries which apparently have understood very little about values and only want EU money. It is not on the agenda, but I think I would not even be in support of the “nuclear option”. So far, at least people who do not see any future in Hungary can leave relatively more easily than if Hungary were not in the EU. OV still is no Lukachenko. Please hold the EU “responsible” if you need to assign blame, but neither is it the source of the problem (nobody sent you “Hungarianism”), nor is it very practical to think in terms of guilt when it would be much more helpful to think what to do in the small steps of disseminating democratic ideas in Hungary and empowering people. If Hungary had to leave the EU, protection of its “dissident” citizens would be much worse. And yet the EU would have accepted its “responsibility” and would have “cleared itself” in your approach.

  22. Kirsten :
    some1: ” Also, Hungary is part of the EU, and until it does not decide to quit, I believe the EU is responsible and later in history should be hold responsible to what is happening in Hungary today or the near future.”
    For what exactly?

    THat they let the minority being constantly bullied, that they allowed the minority to leave in fear, that they allowed hate speech, that they allowed that 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest, that they finance Fidesz even though that they are fully aware that the money that they funnel into Hungary is not spent on its intended purpose, that they are indirectly but willingly finance hate speech, and allow one of their member countries trample on human rights. Good enough? As far as I am concerned the 2/3 can kiss each other on any parts day or night, but the EU, like it or not must take care of the other 1/3.

  23. ” 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest”

    What do you mean by that? There are no two-thirds terrorizing. There was an election law apparently considered suitable for democratic Hungary that made it possible to gain 2/3 in parliament with a support of 50 % of the electorate. These two thirds have been used by Fidesz to dismantle democracy. We do not know how many people are actually benefiting from the new Fidesz system, and there is a relatively small part of the country actually terrorizing others. But there is a huge part of the society that either does not understand what is going on, or believes in the stupid propaganda, or fear Fidesz, but what I consider even more problematic, also people who could do something and retreat because they do not know what to do, do not cooperate, feel unsurprisingly “helpless” in such circumstances, and search who (except of themselves) could do something to protect them (or where they can assign blame) and because of useless quarrels between each other. Perhaps you have heard already that the EU is not sending public officials to serve in the national burocracies. You can turn to the Court of Justice, or Hungary can be asked to change policies but implementation is done on the national level, by Hungarians in this case. If these do not act, because they are so full of national obedience – what do you suggest to do? They will get another letter and so forth. Until they are kicked out, or until they get no money from Brussels anymore. Better protection will occur only if that is valued by Hungarians and implemented by Hungarians.

  24. Kirsten :
    ” 2/3 of the country terrorize the rest”
    What do you mean by that? There are no two-thirds terrorizing. There was an election law apparently considered suitable for democratic Hungary that made it possible to gain 2/3 in parliament with a support of 50 % of the electorate. These two thirds have been used by Fidesz to dismantle democracy. We do not know how many people are actually benefiting from the new Fidesz system, and there is a relatively small part of the country actually terrorizing others. But there is a huge part of the society that either does not understand what is going on, or believes in the stupid propaganda, or fear Fidesz, but what I consider even more problematic, also people who could do something and retreat because they do not know what to do, do not cooperate, feel unsurprisingly “helpless” in such circumstances, and search who (except of themselves) could do something to protect them (or where they can assign blame) and because of useless quarrels between each other. Perhaps you have heard already that the EU is not sending public officials to serve in the national burocracies. You can turn to the Court of Justice, or Hungary can be asked to change policies but implementation is done on the national level, by Hungarians in this case. If these do not act, because they are so full of national obedience – what do you suggest to do? They will get another letter and so forth. Until they are kicked out, or until they get no money from Brussels anymore. Better protection will occur only if that is valued by Hungarians and implemented by Hungarians.

    Of course I meant that in the name of the 2/3. WE are all aware that the Fidesz 2/3 is nothing like it, but it is also their PR. I agree that huge part of society does not understand what is going on, but an other part of society does ot understand where to turn to when their rights are being violated, and an other part simply does not have the money to turn to anywhere. THe EU does not need to embrace more burocracy and more red tape, that is for the lawyers and diplomats. At this point even the blind sees what is going on, but so far the Eu did nothing.. yes, they tell Orban that he is not being to nice, and then what? What is the EU for, it is only for economical union or does it actaully have some ways to assure justice? For the money Orban and his buddies make I would not mind to be publicly scolded either. WHat does he have to loose? Hungary is the land of Lord of the Flies and everyone is shaking their head versus kicking Orban’s butt. “Until they are kicked out, or until they get no money from Brussels anymore.” you say. Yes. THis is what we are saying for over a year now, but the money is still coming, and filling the pockets of Fidesz Troopers. Stadiums are being built, and the homeless are put to jail for sleeping on the street. I do not see the EU is cutting that money off, and i do not see any real threat coming to Hungary’s direction in order to shape up. If the EU is not capable to protect all of its citizens (and it seems they are not able) then it is not only the Fidesz to blame. Fidesz simply takes advantage of the situation with the uncomfortable buzzing of the EU.

  25. Some1 :
    OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
    Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
    SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

    Agreed, it is somethig more than disgraceful. Actually, there are no words to express my contempt for people who would do something like this.

  26. hongorma :

    Some1 :
    OT: Each year there are thousand of Hungarians participate in a walk to remember of the thousands of Jews perished in the holocaust. The name of the walk is March of the Living, and it is on April 8th. This year a Hungarian motorcycle group also organized a motor march, called Give More Gas!, and are planning to drive through the old Jewish quarter as well as next to Eastern Europe’s largest synagogue, Dohany utcai zsinagoga.
    Although some Fidesz members expressed their disagreement, so far the event for the bikers is green lighted.
    SHAME!!!!!!!! What does this tell about Hungary, that there is a group that even dare to think that they can go through wit this?

    Agreed, it is somethig more than disgraceful. Actually, there are no words to express my contempt for people who would do something like this.

    And consider this: that in the background, prodding these types forward, or the hidden anti-semites that rule this country.

    Now, who is proud to be HUNGARIAN???

  27. OT: The central bank’s vice president, Julia Kiraly resigned. She got fead up with Matolcsy’s idaes, and according to her the monetary council became less and less responsible for making decisions.

    Well, I am sure since there are more Fidesz Troppers are in the monetary council, this is still not a sign to the EU that something is really wrong. Moeny will still be coming from the EU to be spent as Orban feels like it, indirectly financing Orban’s reelectaion. Any holes will be filled in from the reserves. NO, the EU will not be held resposnible because it si the “peopel’s will” in Hungary for their money to be gone.

  28. some1, Hungary is criticised for changing “rules” quickly or not valueing the law and treaties as they act according to will. Simply a small autocracy. The EU does proceed according to the treaties. If you want action against the Hungarian government, you need to identify the points that you want Hungary to change, you need to prove that this is against the treaties and you need to find sufficient support in the other governments for actions against the Hungarian government. It is a political, not a moral issue. For me your argumentation in that respect is quite close to the argumentation of Fidesz, which also has little respect for the treaties and considers its “moral” approach (historical rights, national pride etc.) to be above the law. So what kind of action, most preferably in accordance with the EU treaties, do you ask for and how do you suggest it is agreed on in the EU institutions?

  29. London via Gyor (still!) Calling!

    Kirsten – I believe the problem is lack of ‘tools’.

    Fidesz KNOWS it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    Orban KNOWS it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    Hungarians KNOW it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    You KNOW it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    I KNOW it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    Everyone on HS KNOWS it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.
    And….
    The EU KNOWS it is democracy that breaches all the EU values that Hungary signed up to.

    Unfortunately the only sanction – which at the moment is considered by the EU parliament as too harsh – the nuclear option – is to withhold funds and withdraw voting rights.

    Hungary is not a totalitarian state – just a very bad democracy.

    However the EU will not tolerate it much longer and they will use the nuclear option – and use it soon.

    They – and we – are fed up with Orban and don’t want bad democracy spreading – as it surely is.

    Their constant bad-mouthing of the EU; their poor behaviour – and two-faced actions will not be tolerated for much longer.

    Their manipulation of the circumstances will stop soon.

    Just watch this space.

    And Orban and kft had better watch out.

    Really.

    Regards

    Charlie

  30. Charlie, as I said, I am not in favour of the nuclear option. The “opposition” would pay even more dearly. You punish those the most who deserve it the least. And you make the whole process of returning to democracy more difficult. Which is why I consider the opposition to be the main force of relevance, with the support of European institutions and other member states. For legitimacy in particular of the international “interference”, you need the support of the average Hungarian – as far as I understand, this is quite an obstacle currently. I have not yet found any source that would have explained to me how to secure human rights in a country where a large proportion of the society is indifferent towards the concept. Where the word “liberal” (in European understanding) has to be avoided because the concept is considered only sinister.

    I read a small document of Jan-Werner Müller, a German at Princeton, about what type of problems the Hungarian development creates for the EU. The book I had is in German but there appears to be related document in English also. It is called “Safeguarding Democracy inside the EU: Brussels and the Future of Liberal Order”. I think it is very much worth a read.

  31. London via Győr (still!) Responding!

    Kirsten Thank you for the recommendation – I will seek it out.

    The reason I don’t think the EU will shilly-shally any longer is because of the one principle that if not nipped in the bud will fester even more – as you hinted at earlier.

    In England – whenever an MP wins a constituency – the first thing they inevitably say in their ‘victor’s’ speech is that they of course will represent those constituents that voted for them – and ALL THAT DIDN’T.

    In essence they recognise that they can never advantage those that voted for them against those that didn’t.

    In Hungary – the so-called ‘majority’ are ruling in precisely this way. The poor are getting more poor and more disadvantaged.

    And they are in a dark place which will only perpetuate under Orban.

    There comes a threshold when the EU recognises that ‘Democracy Orban-style’ (Gangland-style) is actually hurting and creating an underclass.

    This is one of the very basic tenets of democracy and one that is deteriorating by the day.

    I believe it is the one factor that will make the EU realise that they HAVE to act.

    Viviane Reding has been a lone voice so far but there is a momentum gaining traction.

    I believe they are just waiting for the outcome of Helsinki – which will inevitably be excoriating in the extreme (but diplomatically expressed!) and then they will act.

    It will be too embarrassing for the EU to sit on their hands through Hillary Clinton’s observations – AND Helsinki for them not to act.

    And for the sake of unity in the OSCE.

    But above all for the underclass that is suffering and growing by the day in a corrupt and unequal Hungary.

    Regards

    Charlie

  32. Charlie: “Unfortunately the only sanction – which at the moment is considered by the EU parliament as too harsh – the nuclear option – is to withhold funds and withdraw voting rights.”

    I think it is too obvious but for clarification, I do not think it is difficult to see that Hungary violates numerous European principles. But it is one thing to see that and another to have the tools to remedy this, as you write also. And in particular, to have tools to remedy this if there is still enough support for the government, the country is not attacking other countries, and the large part of the society that is opposed to that wishes to express its discontent “unpolitically”. I still believe once those people opposed to OV manage to respect one another including their differences in many fields, and accept that it needs a political solution (and not some romantic or mythical dissolution of the problem in national unity), Hungary could be “European” again quite quickly. But people have to mobilise own resources.

  33. btw – your reading recommendation, which I believe advocates the setting up of the Copenhagen Commission was alluded to in one of Eva’s earlier blogs…

  34. Unfortunately, Kirsten things have gone too far and ‘democracy’ has reached a point of stasis, such that nothing can be done internally to revive the patient.

    The older generation and the ruling class have too much to lose.

    I think Hungary has gone too far along the ‘Non-Democratic Democracy’ route – to suddenly discover ‘Europeanism’ and true democracy.

    An uprising is just wishful thinking.

    Regards

    Charlie

  35. Charlie: “I believe it is the one factor that will make the EU realise that they HAVE to act.”

    I am more sceptical about this because I think the EU still has to be approached from the member states level also (it is not only the EU institutions that act but they need the express support of the national governments through the European Council), and wide-spread support for such strong sanctions appears unlikely to me. But, perhaps I am wrong, and they will come up with some smart solution. Another question is whether this “solution” can improve matters in Hungary, when we read here frequently that the neglect for the poor, for the law, for education, for human rights in general might even be criticised by some but that there is apparently no interest on the part of persons concerned to learn how things could be improved. For instance by turning to international experience. Sanctions of the EU will perhaps be unavoidable, and yet I wonder how these will actually improve the lives of people who already now appear to be mainly confused by what has been going on in Hungary at least in the past decade.

  36. Charlie, I am not thinking in terms of an uprising NOW or in the near future. I think the way forward is first and foremost that those people who want Hungary to be a democracy 1) learn to communicate with each other, 2) set up a joint platform and a programme for democratic Hungary, 3) and start to mobilise the society for this goal. That can take quite some time. This is what I believe is what has to be worked for. The political “elite” has managed in the years between 1989 and 2010 to discredit the concept of democracy, this is how I read the support for OV and the indifference of other people towards the opposition even if they do not like Orban either. MSzP has had its share in this loss of credit of “democracy”, which is why you need some grassroot movements to restore the credit of democracy. This is where Hungary stands. That this can be considered a disgrace for the EU and some established democracies in the West as these stand for democracy, that I understand, and yet it would also have its merits to help a country that had a quite difficult time during the 20th century, to find its way into the democratic camp. Without that democracy being introduced by force, in dictatorial manner from Brussels, as that would contradict itself. So you need the domestic movement for actions from Brussels to have some positive effects. That the opposition is so weak that cannot even hope that it will seize the occasion, this problem has to be dealt with also – unfortunately.

Comments are closed.