Viktor Orbán shapes the Holocaust Memorial Year

While Viktor Orbán was composing his letter, described by the philosopher Ágnes Heller as the handiwork of Moliére’s Tartuffe, the pious fraud who managed to fool his benefactor and his wife with his pretensions of divine authority, the Orbán regime’s political machine continued preparing the ground for its own version of the Holocaust Memorial Year, for the most part unadulterated by Jewish input.

Today I’ll focus on two events: (1) the agreement of cooperation between the Veritas Institute and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Center and (2) the meeting between members of the government and representatives of Mazsihisz, the umbrella organization for several Jewish communities. As I already noted a few days ago, the Veritas Historical Institute, directed by Sándor Szakály, and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Center, represented by György Haraszti, chairman of the board, signed an agreement of cooperation. Leaders of Mazsihisz and other Jewish organizations were stunned. Szakály and Haraszti have already agreed on some conferences that will be jointly sponsored by the two institutions.

The first conference will deal with the period between the German and Russian “occupations.” A sidenote: The word used in connection with the arrival of the Soviet troops is a matter of controversy of an ideological nature. There is no question that for the remaining Jewish population of Hungary the Soviet arrival was a “liberation” (felszabadulás), and therefore the Holocaust Center’s acquiescence in using the word “occupation” (megszállás) is unfortunate. Although admittedly most non-Jewish Hungarians feared the arrival of the Soviet troops, calling the event a foreign occupation is simplistic. It does, however, jibe with the Hungarian constitution’s (and Orbán’s) view of Hungary’s lost independence. The Germans took it away in 1944, and after the war the Allies that defeated Hitler’s Germany (which, after all, included the Soviet Union) continued to deny Hungary its independence. Hungary was a powerless, and hence innocent, nation; all the power, and all the responsibility, lay in the hands of its occupiers.

Monument of the March for Life, Budapest / Work of Zénó Kelemen

Monument of the March for Life, Budapest / Work of Zénó Kelemen

Now back to the controversial agreement between the Veritas Institute and the Holocaust Center. Historian Szabolcs Szita, the temporary director of the Holocaust Center, knew nothing about the negotiations between Haraszti and Szakály. Szita was named director three years ago and his appointment is coming to an end on May 3. No one knows who his successor will be. One thing is sure: he wasn’t encouraged to reapply. György Haraszti, on the other hand, obviously has very good relations with the Orbán government. He was named chairman of the board shortly after the election of 2010. He is also a professor at the Országos Rabbiképző–Zsidó Egyetem, the rabbinical school and Jewish university that is under the supervision of Mazsihisz.

As a result of his agreement with the Horthy-loving Szakály, a man Mazsihisz demanded the government replace with a more reputable historian, Haraszti was asked to leave all his positions at the rabbinical school at the end of the current academic year. I’m not worried about his future, however. The Orbán government takes good care of its own. As for topic two, at the request of Viktor Orbán a meeting with the leaders of Mazsihisz was arranged for April 30th, the same day Orbán released his letter to Katalin Dávid. The government was represented by Viktor Orbán, János Lázár, and Zoltán Balog. Mazsihisz sent its president, András Heisler; Péter Tordai, the president of the Budapest Jewish Community (BZSH); and Péter Kardos, chief rabbi of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor.

The meeting was described as a long and “frank” discussion. We all know what “frank” means in this context: the discussion was less than pleasant and it led practically nowhere. As far as the monument is concerned, it is not negotiable because Viktor Orbán “has no room to maneuver.” He cannot give up the original concept. This is very strange reasoning. Who is forcing him to erect the monument? Surely, nobody. What he might have had in mind was that because of his stubbornness he maneuvered himself into a corner from which he cannot extricate himself without losing face.

Some people might argue that Orbán feels so strongly about the issue that scrapping the monument and the idea behind it would shake the very foundations of his worldview. I doubt it. He is anything but a man of firm beliefs. He belongs to the church of “what works now.” The only promise the leaders of the Mazsihisz delegation received was that in establishing the House of Fates “they together will make a last attempt to create a system of cooperation that will ensure the true depiction of history in accordance with Hungarian Jewish perspectives.”

In certain circles this agreement was hailed as a sign of Viktor Orbán’s willingness to compromise. I am not that optimistic. I fear that the gulf between the two views is so great that it cannot be bridged. I will be most surprised if talks between government representatives and supporters, such as Mária Schmidt and György Haraszti, and Mazsihisz, supported by most historians of the Holocaust, can possibly arrive at a common ground.

Szakály’s appointment, according to Mazsihisz’s brief description of the meeting, was not on the agenda. On the other hand, the Mazsihisz leaders offered some preliminary plans for a “House of Coexistence” which Mazsihisz suggested as an alternative to the House of Fates. Again, I have the feeling that this is a dead issue. As is clear from the agenda of the conversation, the creation of the House of Fates is going ahead. A House of Coexistence would be another establishment costing additional money. I doubt that Viktor Orbán is in the mood to give such a gift to Mazsihisz and the Jewish communities it represents. Especially not after Jewish communities supported the two-week-long demonstration against his “accurate and flawless” monument.

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38 comments

  1. He has no room to maneuver? How very interesting!
    He had plenty of room to maneuver when the nascent National Theatre building had to be torpedoed and left unfinished, in fact “ditched,” in order to have his own alternative monster built in the boondocks. Although that was a much greater magnitude of a project. Indeed, as a reminder of that “maneuver,” there is still today an enormous ditch fouling up one of the most central, most historic squares of Budapest.
    He also had enough room to maneuver when he strangled the fourth subway project, already under construction, merely to punish the sinful Budapest for the temerity of daring to elect a liberal lord mayor. And doing it shortly after signing an agreement with that very lord mayor about the financing of the subway! That was an even greater project than the National Theatre by several orders of magnitude and also involved European financial support. When he maneuvered Hungary out of that, the country lost billions of European financing.
    Just as he could call into being this monster by fiat, so he could also stop it at once at will.
    It is not that he cannot maneuver, he just simply won’t.
    He will also lie anything to save face, as if it would be possible to safe face by lying.

  2. Sorry, I made an error. I meant to write in the last sentence:

    He will also lie anything to save face, as if it would be possible to save face by lying.

  3. Haraszti must be convinced to leave the sinking ship of Orban.

    If Orban is blackmailing Haraszti, he should come clean.

  4. All ‘tempest-in-a-teacup’.
    By now we should know that when Orban ‘lights up the jews’….he is probably hiding something else. I suggest that the monument issue serves to feed the anti-semites, but mostly, to keep people’s minds off the missing response(s) to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

  5. Help Haraszti to Come Clean:

    The “sinking ship of Orban”. Muhahahaha. That’s good.

    Orban’s ship is not going down anytime soon. Dont’t even dream about it.

    You should be smarter than that. And you should have thought about Haraszti when he was appointed. Orban never appoints people by chance. Think about the search for a minister for development which eventually found one Lászlóné Németh.

    Nobody had such a conscious human resources policy when it comes to strategic (politically important) positions as Orban does, since I don’t know when, maybe the early 1950’s.

    Loyalty and controllability are paramount, to a point no Western person can imagine.

    If Haraszti was appointed in the first place, then that had to have a compelling reason. The only question is what?

  6. 10 years ago I kicked out Haraszti as a member of the Board of Directors of the Mensch Foundation International.He was the only one I kicked out.

  7. OT
    Béla Glattfelder EU representative of Fidesz is getting very confused. In his recent rant against the EU where he tells the world that the EU should stop telling Hungary what to do inside its borders, at the same time he also states that they will do everything to make sure that the EU will help to create jobs for young people in Hungary. He also said that Fidesz must protect the creation of workplaces from the left that attack Hungary in Brussels, and from the right that wants Hungary to quit the EU.

    I am not sure what kind of a drug the Fidesz members are on. I thought that only Toronto has problem wit its crack using mayor, but apparently Glattfelder has some issues..

    – First of all, never in the last two decades so many Hungarin youth left Hungary because of the “fantastic” policies implemented by the Hungarin agivernemnet then under Fidesz.
    – Saying that Hungary performs better in workplace creation is like saying that a factory that employs children for slave labour has success with low labour expenses. Hungary created a work scheme where they force people to do legitimate jobs way below of minimum wage. Those people are included in the employment count, and so are the young people who are working outside the borders of Hungary. THere are thousands of young people working in London that is reported in the success numbers.
    – So far there was only the Jobbik and the Fidesz that was happily marching against the EU, organized and paid by their own party.
    Here is a picture to refresh Glattfelder and others memory about the Fidesz march against the EU

    – No people, except the embers of Fidesz attacked the Hungarian a people. Fidesz only supports its own litter, and not the regular people. You can see that on SZabadsag Ter, under the TRaffi mutyi, at the Land lease fiasco, etc. TAke a look on Rozas Hoffman’s policies that simply pulled out the carpet under the Hungarian education to benefit Fidesz. THis is all under the watchful eyes of the Fidesz from the right!
    – I would also like to encourage Glattfelder to start to read some conservative magazines to get a true sense that it is not the left only that attacks Orban, Fidesz, those paid by the Fidesz (NOT Hungary), but plenty of conservatives.
    – It is Fidesz’ Janos Lazar who’s fantastic reorganizing skills caused the current “crises” of no EU money coming to Hungary. Fidesz does not need the left to attack Hungary. THey had Pal Schmitt (the fraud President), Janos Lazar (who told HUngarians that they only worth as much as much they make), Antal Rogan (who’s taxes are still no cleared), Rozsa Hoffman (who kept lying about the educational books, and about the education in general). Now those people do attack Hungary in the daily basis!

    If Fidesz tries to serve the Hungarian people, maybe they should start to tell them the truth.

  8. Some1:

    re the young people leaving Hungary. It is a huge mistake to think that they are fundamentally different from the Hungarian population from a political point of view.

    They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among the working class people, Jobbik.

    They leave Hungary, enjoy freedom of movement, but they do hate ‘liberals’ and the EU-federalists.

    I also have many acquaintances who have been working at the Commission for many years, have been enjoying all the perks and they still hate the EU.

    These may sound contradictory, but people are that: contradictory.

    Just a note.

  9. Csongor, you are right. Many newcomer Hungarians in the UK are Fidesz or Jobbik supporters and voters, in my experience.

  10. On May 11th, there will be an invitation only concert as part of the Holocaust Memorial Celebrations at the Music Academy. The programme choice is peculiar. The concert features works by Hungarian Jewish composers whose careers were cut short by the Holocaust and I think we can all agree that that is both fitting and dignified.

    The problem is with the central work: a mass, written by Ernő Dohnányi for the consecration of Szeged Cathedral in 1930. And it gets more peculiar. Dohnányi was accused of being an Arrow Cross collaborator which effectively ended his performing career even after his exile to Florida. I’m sure people will rush to Wikipedia to check up on Dohnányi and you will find some dreadful stuff about him. To be scrupulously fair though, he has his apologists and my own feeling having done my own reading on the subject is that their arguments are more convincing than the ones summarised on Wikipedia. To quite a large degree, Dohnányi’s complicity may have been exaggerated. But even so, he remains a strongly ambiguous figure. And it is puzzling why a work written in 1930 for a different faith is deemed relevant.

    Worse though is that the organisers appear to see a parallel between the curtailment of Dohnányi’s career due to allegedly false accusations, and the curtailment of the lives of Hungarian Jewish musicians due to Zyklon-C and bullets. This same concert was performed in New York last year but then, the “angle” was on rediscovering forgotten Hungarian music, which I find acceptable. But to chose it for the Holocaust Memorial Concert is tasteless in the extreme. I am undecided whether this is revisionism or simple insensitivity. Either way, I won’t be going.

  11. csongor
    May 2, 2014 at 8:15 am Quote
    Some1:
    re the young people leaving Hungary. It is a huge mistake to think that they are fundamentally different from the Hungarian population from a political point of view.
    They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among
    the working class people, Jobbik.
    __________
    My comment was not about the political stand of the young people who leave Hungary. My comment was about that they are not happy there, whatever the reason is. Their employment numbers added to the Hungarian statistics as a success story is a lie.

    Obviously if they leave the country under the rules of the Fidesz government because they are unhappy for whatever reason in Hungary, and they still decide to vote for Fidesz then they are stupid, but that is another story, and has nothing to do with my post.

  12. “They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among the working class people, Jobbik.”

    What’s your proof for that?
    Have any surveys been done on the matter?

    If not, then you are talking off the op of head, or to put it more politely you are relying on your own personal experience. My own personal experience would be quite the opposite I know of very few Fidesz/Jobbik expats.

    Remember when Big Brave Vona came to London for a Jobbik rally, he ended up quivering locked up in an underground toilet because the number of local *and* Hungarian anti-fascists greatly outnumbered the Nazi Hungarian expats. Approx 60 Hungarian Fidesz/Jobbik nazis turned up to support him out of a Hungarian exile population of what nearly 100,000?
    Also it’s notable that the regime made it as difficult as possible for Hungarian expats to vote in the last election- do you really think if Orban believed that he could pull in even one more vote from London, he wouldn’t have made it as easy as he did it for his sheep in Romania?

    Now… I will agree that the main reason why people emigrate to the Uk and elsewhere is not political but usually economic (ie nobody or very few people have gone into exile because they hate Orban and the Fidesz/Jobbik axis). But do you really think that a twenty-something forced to work in London in a restaurant kitchen because of Fidesz economic policy is an Orban fan?

  13. “Have any surveys been done on the matter?”

    There are tons of surveys about politics and age distribution. MSZP always does better than average in the 70+ group while Jobbik always does better than average in the under 30 group.

    You just have to google the surveys. Age data is ALWAYS collected for every representative survey anyway, per definition. Sometimes they do not publish it but they do create tons of such “age survey”s over time.

  14. kommentelok
    Ok.
    Give a link. Go on.
    You won’t because you can’t.
    The reason Der Fuhrer didn’t make it as easy for Hungarian exiles to vote in the Uk as he did for folk born in Romania was… why do you reckon? Administrative mistake;)
    He was running scared, that’s why.

    valosagonline

    “The antifa protesters of London were British.”

    Nope. You obviously weren’t there, my friend
    “The most popular party in Hungarian universities is the Jobbik”
    Quite possibly. But logically those Nazis aren’t also living simultaneously in the UK or am I missing something?

  15. Let us remember, since no Hungarian newspapers do.

    The first armed clashes between peasants and noblemen took place at Mezőtúr exactly 500 years ago.

    The victory of the noblemen over the peasants in July 1514, and Werbőczy’s subsequent Tripartitum shaped Hungarian constitutional law into a legalistic exercise of oppression of the minority ruling class over the majority.

    Orban’s rubber stamp Parliament brought back legalistic oppression as a noble tradition.

  16. More correct English grammar:

    oppression of the majority by the minority ruling class.

  17. oneill I understand your concern relating to Some1’s rather expansive assessment of Hungarian youth emigrating and the logic of having some polling data. All I can provide is what I have seen here in the Midwest USA, maybe Eva sees different things back east in the USA. Working class youth who are skilled tradesmen and have sponsors I have met here who are recent immigrants, and there are not many I would add, could be characterized politically in the way Some1 has. But that seems not to be true of Hungarian immigrants or green card holders (Permanent Residency Card) or work visas holders, such as an H-1B Visa, with University level educations and I have met a few.

    Just as to the relevant immigration data for Hungarians to the USA. From 1986 to 2012 there were only 31,365 legal Hungarian immigrants to the USA. There are currently based on the best estimates made by the US government very few illegal immigrants from Europe at all, the best guess is about 34,500 from all of Europe including Hungary (see http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf ). There were only 363 Hungarians accepted for the 2014 DV-2014 diversity lottery to the USA (see http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/dv2014-selected-entrants.html ).

  18. “Give a link. Go on.”

    Oneill Did you read the study that was linked to you earlier? It was already linked to you, what prevented you from reading it? I was talking about studies dealing with age distributions in voting. Studies that examine the voting of different age groups. Such studies are common and one was already linked to you so why would anyone post more to you until you read the one already posted? What this has to do with “exiles” I don’t get.

  19. “Oneill Did you read the study that was linked to you earlier? It was already linked to you, what prevented you from reading it? I was talking about studies dealing with age distributions in voting.”

    It gave voting preferences of Hungarian expats presently living in the UK?
    Nope, thought not.

    Let me help you: surveys of Hungarian expats living in the UK.
    Now.. get someone to explain that rrelatively easy concept to you.
    Try again.

  20. I agree that we could do with some reliable statistics, rather than anecdotes.
    What I meant is that recent emigrants are often (surprisingly) not anti-Fidesz. Partly because their support was formed while living in Hungary, prior to their decision to leave. Also, many Hungarians in the UK have minority feelings, that they are not appreciated as Hungarians by the rich Westeners and are looked down upon – therefore the image that “Orban stands up for the Hungarians” and “stops Westeners ordering them about” and encourages them to be proud of being Hungarian etc appeals to them.

    I can only rely on my own experiences and I certainly don’t ask Hungarians about their political views unless they bring it up. But 15 / 20 would be pro-government or pro-Jobbik or “right- leaning”. This includes people with professional degrees, doctors etc

    My family in Hungary is also pro-Fidesz, so are some friends. I don’t tend to classify them as brainwashed idiots but try to listen to them and understand where they are coming from. Often it comes down to “Orban defends Hungarians’ interests”, and they usually admit that they don’t know as much about politics as me. Some of them have a very simplistic world view of “liberals and lefties want us bad, righties want us good, Orban simply needs more time to tidy things up”. Some are very angry people, with the usual rants about Jews- Gipsies-Western Liberals.
    Most are people who are not skilled and able to form their own opinions, so they support the party that has a likeable leader or a likeable main “line”.

  21. “It gave voting preferences of Hungarian expats presently living in the UK?
    Nope, thought not.”

    Finally you say what you wanted. All expats living in UK voting preferences. And here I thought the discussion was about young people.

    Just because it is overwhelmingly young people who emigrate, because they know languages, have no families yet to tie them down, have no property, have means and opportunity. Their voting preferences are known from countless studies. But of course you are not interested in those studies they all contain statistics which is useless when you can more easily rely on anecdotal “evidence” and your theories. I think we can agree that you were right in everything. Since there are no studies about the 19,2-19,5 year old Hungarian expats with brown hair, and glasses who are living in Birmigham we can never know their voting preferences ever. Or until a study is made researching just them and nobody else. It is forever a secret.

  22. My experience with Hungarian expats in “Europe” would (unfortunately) point to a similar proportion to what cheshire cat wrote. I am not sure either whether this is based on “political” thinking because those who think politically are most often very critical (to the point of being uncompromising), and others appear to be hiding their political ideas because what appears to be disliked the most is to see Hungary criticised by others. The support for the “pro-Hungarian” Fidesz is really something like a defence of the nation. Perhaps slowly the idea should be established that the nation is not close to extinction at every turn.

  23. Istvan
    May 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm Quote
    oneill I understand your concern relating to Some1′s rather expansive assessment of Hungarian youth emigrating and the logic of having some polling data.
    __________

    I did not provide an expansive assessment. I think you are contributing something to me, but it muster someone else’s s comment I quoted.

  24. I have only a couple of comments to make. One is the Hungarian Reformed Church’s status in the Horthy era. Rev. Kovacs does have a point. Although not officially but the “state religion” of Hungary was Catholicism. Yes, Horthy was baptized as a Calvinist but, I think, he wished he had been born a Catholic. Just like Orbán, another alleged Calvinist, he took part in all the “Szent Jobb” processions and his wife was a devout Catholic. If he had ever entertained ideas, as he may have had, about becoming a king, there was this obstacle: his religion.

    Many times I talked about discrimination I myself experienced as a non-Catholic. For example, the whole city of Pécs, then with a population of 70,000, had three gymnasiums but all three belonged to the Catholic Church. There, we, who had been baptized as Hungarian Reformed, were discriminated against. Believe me. I’m not making it up.

    However, what is going on in the Hungarian Reformed Church at the moment is truly disgraceful, although it seems that the Bishop Bölcskei has become disenchanted recently with Orbán’s way of running the country.

    As for the recent emigrants. If they resemble their compatriots at home, they are either not interested in politics or sympathize with Fidesz or Jobbik. But I don’t understand why they would be enchanted with Orbán and his ilk when things are going so badly economically in Hungary. Yet, Viktor Orbán and Fidesz never do anything without good reason. It is clear that they did not want these people in Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany to vote. Maybe their fears were groundless, but they sure thought that it was better to keep them away from the polls.

    Cheshire Cat’s comments regarding the recent immigrants’ feelings that the natives look down on them could certainly explain why the nationalistic rhetoric of Orbán would appeal to them. I might add, that we also felt sorry for ourselves after getting out of Hungary in 1956-57. It takes time to get acclimatize.

  25. Oneill:

    the fact the Orban was afraid that the immigrant Hungarians would be a more anti-Fidesz group is simple pre-caution, prudence. Compared to the expected 98% Fidesz-loyalty of Transylvanian and Serbian Hungarian voters the risks were just too big, also they are more dispersed so the campaign is more difficult, so Fidesz did not want to do that.

    But I have to concur with Cheshire Cat.

    Try to understand that no young person entering voting age in the last 20 years decided to vote for MSZP (or this year Együtt or DK). None. This is the rule of thumb.

    The Left was for the old people. Sorry. This was how the currently under 40 were socialized in the last 20 years. Among politically inclined kids in freshmen camps (gólyatábor) there has been no bigger fun than loughing on the hopeless Szocis like Szekeres or Puch and having a nice party and getting drunk. This has been going on for almost two decades. Why would these people, now adults, switch back? This is an identity, a socializaion, a generation issue, not a choice arrived at after long contemplation as some scientists want us to believe. And people don’t switch identities very easily.

    Liberalism is just hated by Hungarians. Liberalism according to many reflects weakness, over-generousness when these are times which call for discipline, leadership and toughness.

    Actually Cheshire Cat’s estimation comes down to 25% lefties and 75% Fidesz/Jobbik supporters which is more or less the same ratio which the elections showed. Especially as even in Hungary amongst the younger people (and the Hungarian immigrants in the West are mostly younger) the ratio of right wingers is higher than among the general population (which was according to the elections: 1/3-2/3). For the time being, because the dying out of the lefties is a problem for the Germans as well (where the 68-ers have no replacement).

    Also, note that immigrants who think that they are survivors, by their own ingenuity, against all odds tend to be conservative conservative. They hate welfare and people seemingly dependent on welfare. If you add these up, it is clear that a 1/4 (divided between various lefty organizations) and 3/4 s for Fidesz/Jobbik is quite realistic.

    And they are the future as they are growing up and bringing their kids up.

  26. “Liberalism according to many reflects weakness, over-generousness when these are times which call for discipline, leadership and toughness.”

    Hungary can expect deliveries of unicorns, flying monkeys, and miniature luxury football stadiums sooner than it can accept leadership and discipline.

    Just as neither the average Romanian not Romanian historians cannot clearly explain exactly what happened during December 1989, most Hungarians have only foggy and confused memories of what caused the “change of regimes” in 1989 in Hungary. The role of the liberal dissidents was quickly blotted out by the MDF, who had either done nothing to bring about change or had actively collaborated with the MSZMP. Rather than develop and stick to an ideology, they simply began to smear the term “liberal.”

  27. Kommentalok
    “Finally you say what you wanted. All expats living in UK voting preferences. And here I thought the discussion was about young people”

    No; you thought wrong. You really should have taken the time to read what was actually being discussed, rather than what you would have liked to have been discussed.

    It doesn’t tie in with my personal experience but I am fully prepared to accept peoples’ personal or anecdotal evidence that Fidesz/Jobbik do as well amongst those who have left the country as they do in Hungary or Romania for that matter.

    But that is anecdotal and not statistical evidence.
    I do realize that the concept of fact-based research is now a dying science in Orbanistan but I still would be interested to see any kind of survey which tells me that, for example, 75%+ of Hungarian emigrants to the UK are Fidesz/Jobbik.

    Koller,

    “The fact the Orban was afraid that the immigrant Hungarians would be a more anti-Fidesz group is simple pre-caution, prudence. Compared to the expected 98% Fidesz-loyalty of Transylvanian and Serbian Hungarian voters the risks were just too big, also they are more dispersed so the campaign is more difficult, so Fidesz did not want to do that.”

    I would argue with the word “prudence”… perhaps “anti-democratic” or “authori
    tarian” would have fitted better.
    Do you think if the regime believed they would have pulled in 75% plus of the vote in the UK they wouldn’t have made it much easier for folk living there?

    Also you seem to think upon politics in a purely zero-sum way- “You are not a Fidesz/Jobbik fan, therefore you must be a MSZP supporter”. I believe Orban and his regime to be dangerously fascistic in outlook and completely incompetent into the bargain. Doesn’t make me automatically a MSZP supporter, I believe them not to be truly of the left but merely champagne socialists and completely incompetent into the bargain.

  28. I’m still wondering why it had to be MSZP and not a new “Social Democrat Party” like we’ve had in Germany for many years.

    And another point: The green movement seems to be really weak in Hungary and imho you can’t really call LMP a green party – or am I wrong there?

    On the other hand I can’t get over it that around 20% of Hungarians think that Jobbik is the right way out of Hungary’s problems and that all these people gladly use and enjoy all the advantages that “Western Capitalism” and the EU bring them – but at the same time they hate the EU???

    Is this some kind of Hungarian illness like schizophrenia?

    PS:

    Of course not all Hungarians are like this, but the percentage seems to be much higher than in other EU countries – though when you look at the prognosis for the EU elections regarding the populist right like UKIP etc, I’m not so sure any more. Generally people seems to be unhappy, around 25% will be voting for those right wing loonies against the EU – at a time when most people have never had it so good!

    It will be really interesting to see how many votes our German loonies like AfD, NPD etc will get – if they’ll be on a similar level as Jobbik, I’ll give up any idea about humans being an intelligent species …

  29. @WOLFI

    “On the other hand I can’t get over it that around 20% of Hungarians think that Jobbik is the right way out of Hungary’s problems and that all these people gladly use and enjoy all the advantages that “Western Capitalism” and the EU bring them – but at the same time they hate the EU???

    Is this some kind of Hungarian illness like schizophrenia?”

    Maybe… I regularly spend time trying to understand…
    But also consider this: Hungarians spent the first 15 years of freedom voting governments out of office. By 2002, they had run out of parties that had not been in government (hence the outbreak of the cold civil war!, partly),so it’s been socialists / Orban since. Jobbik is simple a “virgin” party: it has not been in power yet, so people who are not happy in Hungary can latch on to it and invest all their hopes in them.

    Schizophrenia about the EU: I’m myself puzzled. It could be that the advantages of the EU are not explained very well to Hungarians (like in the UK), and – like in many members states – politicians like to blame the EU for difficult decisions or policies they have to do.
    But here again, Hungarians are struggling with their inferiority problems. In 1990 many of us believed that it’s only a matter of 5ish years before the standard of living in Hungary will catch up with that of Austria’s. That didn’t happen, so many people thought, once they admit us into the EU, things will brighten up. The country will suddenly advance politically, culturally, socially, economically, as if by a magic wand. Well, we know what happened. So there is a general disillusionment in the West, in democracy, in market economy, in capitalism etc. A feeling that the West just uses us, taken our markets, destroyed our economy, our industry, they betrayed us. So let’s not try to catch up with them, let’s go our own way and sod them all. The money is “owed” to us, for all our suffering and sacrifice, that’s the least that the West should do, so we will accept it.
    Few people think that the reason Hungary has not flourished is NOT because Western democracy, market economy is at fault – it’s because it wasn’t done properly in Hungary.

    I’m beginning to believe that some societies are just not ripe for it, yet. Minusio described it once very well, bringing up Germany as a parallel.

  30. Cheshire Cat:

    Hungary’s economy was simply not ripe for a full opening.

    Hungary practically did not have one single competitive sector prior to 1990 (perhaps with the exception of cheamicals/pharmaceuticals) and thus the corporations (the employers) were defenseless. Sure there has been a transformation but it has been slow and painful.

    The opening of the markets and the competition from abroad lead to a huge transformation in the economy destroying jobs all over the country. This sense of decline in say 70% of the country (despite the renovation of town centres there are no jobs and younger people leave without thinking) what causes Jobbik’s and Fidesz’s adoration.

    A country is as ripe politically for an EU membership as its economy is for a full opening (assuming membership means a full opening of its markets). Hungary was not.

  31. “The *country* was not ready for the EU”

    You can insert here probably not only Hungary but many otheres of the newcomers. (Btw I think “ready” is better in this case than “ripe” …)

    But Hungarians thought they were ready obviously and nobody dared to tell them that even in well established EU members like France or Germany there are disadvantaged parts with much lower GDP and income because of structural disadvantages like soil/climate, traffic connections (look at the former border regions) or the schooling level – places where nobody wanted to invest for a long time …

    Nowadays large international companies try to invest there, build new factories etc (the EU helps financially) – using the fact that people there may be happy enough with less money and motivated enough to learn. This company looking for welders was an example just like Skoda (a Volkswagen subsidiary) which is very successful – while its Spanish counterpart SEAT is struggling.

    Dacia (Renault) is a similar success story and let’s hope that the Mercedes factory in Kecskemet will be too!

    It’s funny in a way:

    In the 15 years that I’ve been in Hungary regularly people have totally adjusted to capitalism – they’ve exchanged their Ladas and Trabants into Opels and Suzukis, you see satellite dishes everywhere, Tescos and Interspars are full with customers, CONSUME! is the order of the day, but they’re complaining , complaining …

    Of course not everybody is complaining, but too many are imho.

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