Hungary

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Some bridge in Budapest everyone else was taking pictures of.
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In 1970 the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals frequented the streets - many of them Hungarians (not the streets - the foreign nationals). Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconists shops to buy cigarettes.....
Monty Python, Hungarian Phrase Book[1]

Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary was formed during the late 9th-early 10th century, when the Magyar horde settled down in the Carpathian Basin. At the beginning of the 11th, King St. Stephen I converted to Christianity, firmly integrating Hungary into the existing political order.

A little history[edit]

Until the 16th century, Hungary was a regional power. however, it suffered from internal instability aided by the nobles growth in power, leading to several succession conflicts. Eventually, the invasion of the Ottoman Empire and Hungary's failure to elect a strong king led to its partition between Austria and the Ottomans. In the late 17th century, Austia drove out the Ottomans from most of Hungary and it was declared an inseparable part of Austria in the Pragmatic Sanction of 1732. After realizing that Nationalism was actually a thing in their empire, Austria established a dual monarchy in 1867 to make the Hungarians quite down a bit about wanting their own country, even if it was still obviously Austrian-controlled.

After the Habsburgs started a whole lot of fighting they weren't ready for and dragged the militarily not independent Hungary into it, Austria-Hungary collapsed and from it Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia (though without the name yet) got most of the territory Hungary had outside its modern borders. This is what is known as the Trianon treaty, the legal basis of which was the idea that territories where aan ethnic minority constituted the majority of the populace would be taken away. The implementation however had several historically significant territories with very clear hungarian majorities separated from hungary, despite contemporary statistics clearly showing this, and despite the receiving countries breaking several treaties the signed in exchange for the territories. This gave rise to Hungarian irredentism seeking to restore some or all of the lands it used to control to it.

Miklós Horthy, a former naval officer who took power in 1920. He ruled as "Regent" and called himself Admiral because he had attained the rank of admiral in 1918 as a member of the Austro-Hungarian navy, despite Hungary only having one port city it bought from Croatia at the time of his rule. Horthy fell in line with Hitler when he was promised the return of lost Hungarian territories for complying, and an invasion for not complying. Horthy attempted to delay the deportation of Hungarian Jews while he was in office, and had both the arrowcrossers (hungarian nazi party) and the communist party outlawed. When the Germans were fed up with Horthy's delaying tactics and most likely found out about the secret negotiations he conducted with the Allies, the capital was occupied by german motorized regiments, his son kidnapped and he was forced to resign under gunpoint. During the soviet times he was branded as a horned right wing devil for having endangered panslavist ideals, and outlawed the communist party. His resignation lead to the arrowcrossers taking over the government and the execution of more Jews because, when you're losing and the enemy is almost here wasting time shooting the Jews is the obvious tactical move. Following the liberation of Hungary, the Soviet Union occupied the country and manipulated the elections until their candidate, Mátyás Rákosi, took power.

Under the subsequently formed People's Republic of Hungary, Rákosi terrorised the populace, abducting and executing political opponents. The crimes committed here, in terms of people deported and tortured and killed, were comparable to the previous nazi occupation. With much - lip service - backing from western Europe the Hungarians mounted a revolution in 1956, and managed to declare an independent Hungary for a couple of weeks. They were of course crushed mercilessly by the Soviets, as they had the misfortune of mounting their revolution at a time when the western powers were occupied with the much more lucrative suez conflict so promised outside help never came. Afterwards the Soviets allowed a more moderate János Kádár to take power. People thought of Kádár's rule generally as a "benevolent dictatorship" known somewhat tongue-in-cheek as Goulash CommunismWikipedia's W.svg; to appease the people, he relaxed political control, not allowing opposition parties to challenge him, but at least not violently repressing them either, except for a short wave of retribution immediately following the 1956 uprising. This was widely believed until the actual amount of people abducted and killed became known after 1990. In addition, while he sought to improve living conditions constantly, in doing so, he had to plunge the country in debt to the West. Thus these improvements would have eventually proved to be unsustainable and illusory - but he was removed in 1988 and during the following year Hungary peacefully reformed into a market economy.

The new capitalist regime did not fulfill its promises either; the destruction of the collective farms and the rapid privatisation and subsequent destruction of the state industries threw the Hungarian economy into shambles, and social inequality rose. Numerous politicians took the opportunity to sweep up whatever they could during the privatisation drive, quickly disavowing their communist past (and calling everyone else communists - generally, the more ex-communists a party has, the more likely they are to use this tactic).

Magyar language[edit]

The Hungarian language (Magyar) is unrelated to almost any other European language (except for Finnish and Estonian, which are distantly related). Hungary is the only European nation where a person's name has the order of family name first followed by given name(s). So, a person named "John Smith" in other Western countries would be named "Smith John" in Hungary. Hungarian sports a highly complex and structured grammar, extensive agglutination (think portmanteau, except it can go on for several words) and a diverse phonology including forty-four distinct sounds, of which fourteen are unique vowels. The frequency and variety of diacritics used to distinguish the vowels from each other, as well as unusual consonant combinations, make written Hungarian very recognizable.

Politics[edit]

Major parties[edit]

Fidesz: (Fiatal Demokrata Szövetség - Young Democrat's Alliance) Originally, it was a liberal party, one of the first civic parties which played a role in the transition to a market economy. After a strong defeat at the elections of 1994, they started to move to the right. In 1998 they won the elections and quickly shifted to conservatism under the leadership of its ambitious and charismatic leader Viktor Orbán, whose control over the party was near-absolute even at that point. (A book released in 2002 titled "A Viktor" offers an interesting insight into his alleged character and his ruthless political methods which manifested even back then.) After losing two elections, the party became more aggressive an radical, not to mention they allied a non-secular party, KDNP. After winning the elections in 2010, the party had won an overwhelming 2/3 majority and has immediately started reforms, some more questionable than others. They replaced the old communist constitution which had just been amended up to that point with a new one. As a basis for this they used a census and a "national consultation" to find out what people found important. The result however, while according to experts a finely written constitution[2][3][4], was undeniably something that skewed very much to the right-conservative side (civil partnership but never marriage for LGBT people), and lacked character that, for example, its american and german counterparts have. A major hysteria was started when a new media law - that was molded together from bits and pieces of other EU media laws - was introduced. Backed by Orbáns leftist detractors in western Europe, there was wide spread panic about media neutrality influencing the international reputation of the country. On a more fact based level however, the actual concerns the EU and the European Court had were quietly addressed, and the current iteration of the media law, while far from the ideal media law of Finnland, is completely EU conform[5][6][7][8].

Thanks to no serious alternatives being present in the next elections, and their success in gaining independence from international organizations like the IMF [9][10]that sought to influence domestic policies, 2014 saw Orban reelected with another 2/3 majority. Thanks to Orbáns policies being aimed largely against multinational corporations who continue asking more in Hungary from poorer people for the same things than in Germany[11][12][13][14], his detractors have a lot of financial, political and media backing.[15] Incidents hyped up and quickly forgotten about include: An internet tax, which was a proposal that was rejected after the initial signs of opposition that was nonetheless protested against long after it had been rejected[16]; the traffik(tobacco shop) deals, which saw only a limited amount of licences being given out through the country but which turned out to have been fairly evenly distributed among left and right leaning owners, and investigations thus far found nothing [17]; the building of a second atomic reactor complex at Paks, to replace the soon to be shuttered old one, where people argued that the public tender wasn't fair, but the EU still approved it with minor holdups[18]; and the building of a border fence to restrict refugees to the border control points so they would not flood in in an uncontrollable and unverifiable manner, which proved to be massively successful so that the Austrians copied it[19][20]. There have also been accusations of a multi millionaire close to Fidesz building up a large media empire, but these worries were quickly silenced when Orbán refused to bow to the demands for special treatment made by the millionaire in question, who promptly made a face heel turn and fired all the journalists that were not leftists and called the prime minister sperm[21]. There currently remains one radiostation and one TV station broadcasting pro government stuff. One of the major commercial free-tv channels, RTL-Klub has a nice practice wherein they interrupt a random prime-time program as if for breaking news, and then proceed to criticize the government, before revealing that this was just a preview of the late night news to come, and cutting to advertisement. [22][23]Despite this people keep bemoaning the lack of media neutrality.

In economic terms, all serious economic meters show that the country is recovering at least as fast as the rest of Europe from the recessions of recent years, and this despite it being almost on the level of Greece in 2010. It has recently been moved up a category into recommended for investments by all three major credit rating organizations.[24]


Interestingly Fidesz has "birthers" among their haters. An urban legend says Viktor Orbán is a Roma (in some far-right version he's also Jewish) and his original name is Viktor Orsós. The claimers trying to defend the statement by some horrible photos, one with terrible lighting (made his skin look darker, racists claims Roma people have darker skin), one with an ugly moustache (stereotype). The problem is that his father and grandfather also was Orbán from the birth, but the "birthers" can explain it. Needless to say, there are much more valid reasons to criticise Orbán's government.

KDNP: (Keresztény Demokrata Néppárt - Christian Democratic People's Party) A minor Christian fundamentalist party which has little relevance except for being a junior coalition partner for Fidesz - as such, it is also used as an outlet for certain unpopular policies of the Fidesz-KDNP government. The party is very similar to the German CSU party in its politics as well as its scandalous conduct. Some of its members include Rózsa Hoffmann, whose educational reforms were so unpopular that they sparked massive student riots that nearly culminated in the storming of the Parliament at one point (although the protest remained peaceful), as well as Zsolt Semjén, who had a statue for Ronald Reagan erected in Budapest, and was one of the several members of the government who turned out to have plagiarised their PhD-s.

MSZP: (Magyar Szocialista Párt - Hungarian Socialist Party) A leftover from the old communist party, without any communism, Fidesz' long life nemesis. The name is a bit of a misnomer; their politics are not so much socialist as left-center, and their economic policy is decidedly neoliberal, with strong adherence to austerity measures. They won elections in 1994, 2002, 2006; the latter were infamous for the Speech of Öszöd and for the party's attempt to privatize the health care system and make it like in the USA. (The speech of Öszöd was an audio recording which leaked out of a private meeting session - the incumbent prime minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, admitted to having "lied, cheated and stolen" throughout their term. The leak was followed by mass riots, and an excessively brutal police crackdown on protesters on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution. In their accuracy of historical reenactment, some of the more violent protesters tried to storm the public television HQ to have their demands read. The main point of concern was however, other people being attacked by riot police including journalists, politicians, and families attending a nearby Fidesz affiliated 1956 memorial event, partly with rubber bullets and teargas, partly with illegal telescopic beating rods. In his commentary on the situation Gyurcsány wrote on social media that the "effort with which police protected him was admirable, and that he was thinking about rewarding them". A message that was later deleted. Because of these measures they lost a lot of their popularity, which made them to only get a small portion in the parliament instead of the usual 40-50%.

After learning from the past (e.g. investing too much money into the social security system instead of jobs) and getting rid of Ferenc Gyurcsány, they regained some of their popularity in recent polls. (It helps that Fidesz' bad economic policies have made them look like an attractive alternative.) It remains to be seen whether their new leader, Attila Mesterházy, can put the country on the path to progress if they are elected, or whether they will repeat the mistakes of their past.

Jobbik: (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom - Movement for a Better Hungary) A "national radical" party, very infamous for their voters' (and some of their leading politicians') racism and anti-Semitism. Sporting conservative morals and third positionist economic politics, they're definitely far-rightists, although not entirely homogenous. Some of their members are Christian Democrats who initially held parties such as the German CDU/CSU as a model, and are disappointed with the path the party took; some are outright Hitlerites; most are ultra-nationalist far rightists who have a reverence for fascist strongmen, or just neo-Nazis. Generally speaking, the party is united by a demagogic appeal to the youth and liberals, although the party is notoriously rocked by scandals - one of their prominent members was expelled after it was discovered he was a Jew (although another member was quickly clarify how that was not, in fact, the reason), while others regularly get arrested by the police for various more or less petty crimes.

While they trying to get rid of the racist, anti-Semitic, and (neo-)Nazi titles - even threatening those who call them Nazis with court action - their affiliated groups (Magyar Gárda, Betyársereg, and so on) show that the comparison is very valid. They have an unofficial "news outlet" in the website Kuruc.info - basically a Hungarian Metapedia which actually operates with American servers (to avoid being shut down by the authorities) and advertises Jobbik frequently. Funnily enough the Obama administration actually complained about the far right being allowed to wreak havoc in Hungary and spread radical messages, to which the government responded by asking the american government to finally start to help them by checking out the Kuruc.info servers, hosted exclusively in the USA.


LMP: (Lehet Más a Politika - Politics Can be Different) A "green party" founded in 2009, the LMP was founded by a mix of liberals and moderate conservatives who tried to offer an alternative to the Fidesz-MSZP dichotomy. Trying to appear modern and appealing to the youth, they used similar tactics to the Jobbik in their recruitment, although their policies are considerably more tolerable. Ironically, despite their name, they quickly became populist and demagogic (two traits against which they have always campaigned). Thanks to a popular tactic by the ex-communists in the hungarian political sphere, the party was split apart from the inside, by people who then turned around and allied with their former main leftist opponents. They have become largely irrelevant - they almost bear no mention except for the sad fact how no new party can ascend above the corrupt, rotten Hungarian political climate.

Együtt 2014: (Together 2014) Another one of the opposition parties, "E14" is a union of several organisations campaigning for freedom of press, democracy and other liberal causes. It is led by Gordon Bajnai, a former ex-MSZP member who led the government for a year during the 2006-2010 term, after Gyurcsány's resignation. Their ideology is not much different from that of the MSZP, and the source of most of its support is Bajnai's charismatic character.

DK: (Demokratikus Koalíció - Democratic Coalition) A party led by the former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. Despite his ill reputation (which was exacerbated by a Fidesz media campaign blaming him for all of the country's problems), his comments in 2006 that would have forever ended the career of any politician in western europe, and his antics that are comparable to that of teaparty and green party members (including recently tearing up his passport symbolically to say that he was a migrant as well), he has managed to rebound and has some support, mostly among the elderly. DK is a liberal party, somewhat to the right of MSZP and Együtt 2014, and is a strong proponent of secular reforms.

References[edit]

  1. Monty Python's "Hungarian Phrase Book" sketch on YouTube
  2. Basic law ‘exemplary’; criticisms ‘nonsense’ - Interview with German constitutional law expert and former federal minister Rupert Scholz about the new Hungarian basic law [1]
  3. EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR DEMOCRACY THROUGH LAW (VENICE COMMISSION) OPINION ON THE NEW CONSTITUTION OF HUNGARY [2]
  4. Amicus Brief for the Venice Commission on the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law and the Key Cardinal Laws[3]
  5. Hungary PM 'ready to change' media law if EU demands [4]
  6. Media: Commission Vice-President Kroes welcomes amendments to Hungarian Media Law [5]
  7. By the end of 2012, a new study on Hungarian media regulation was published by CompLex. The book titled Hungarian Media Law was edited by András Koltay, and collects the contributions of 12 expert authors from various fields of media law.[6]
  8. Hungarian Media Law: In Keeping with EU and International Standards[7]
  9. Hungary Does Without EU and IMF [8]
  10. IMF-deal: the stress-test of the Orbán-government [9]
  11. Unicredit Bank - Lakossági kondíciós lista [10]
  12. APPLE iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 32GB ezüst (mnv62hc/a) [11]
  13. APPLE iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 32 GB 9.7 Zoll Tablet Silber [12]
  14. HypoVereinsBank - Konten im Überblick [13]
  15. Soros foundation vows to continue working in Hungary despite government crackdown [14]
  16. "Messages on the page called for people to rally once again in Budapest on Friday night to not only celebrate the “victory” but also make it clear to the government they would not tolerate the imposition of any internet tax in the future." [15]
  17. Hungary's tobacco law: Leaked tape causes outrage [16]
  18. Hungary hopeful of Paks II approval within weeks [17]
  19. "Stricter border patrols and the makeshift wall have led to a significant decrease in the number of refugees reaching Hungary." [18]
  20. Austria ready for 100km border fence with Hungary [19]
  21. "Persze, tájékozódtam, most bemegyek a szerkesztőségbe, és mindenkit kibaszok. De már nem kell, hiszen felmondtak. Tudom, de nem érdekel. Még egyszer mondom, mindenkit kibaszok. ...Ön szerint miért mondtak le a lap vezetői? Mondtam az előbb. Nagyon jól tudom, miről van szó. Orbán egy geci."[20]
  22. En Hongrie, une chaîne de télé en guerre contre le régime de Viktor Orban [21]
  23. Népszerű a kormányfingatás az RTL-en? [22]
  24. Moody's upgrades Hungary's government bond ratings to Baa3; stable outlook [23]