“”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|
Hungary is a country at the crossroads of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary was formed in the late 9th-early 10th century when the Magyar horde settled 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. Hungary spent a period of approximately 150 years under Ottoman rule and is occasionally incorporated into broader definitions of the Balkans region.
A little history
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, Austria 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 quiet down a bit about wanting their own country, while the compromise also suited the Hungarian elites as it allowed them a share in the empire’s driving seat. Another benefit of the compromise, as seen from Budapest, was that it allowed the latter a fairly free hand in preventing the minorities in the Hungarian half of the empire from getting anything even approaching autonomy, as well as generally excluding all of them from power through an extremely limited and selective franchise. Budapest also embarked on a Magyarization program to attempt to assimilate its minorities (though Magyars were perhaps not even in the majority in the Kingdom of Hungary, with the largest share reported in its 1911 census being Hungarian speakers, and those still only comprised a wafer-thin majority of 54%).
After the Habsburgs started a lot of fighting they weren't ready for, with the Hungarians going along to preserve their privileged position within the dual monarchy’s governing structure, Austria-Hungary collapsed. From it, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia (though without the name yet) got most of the territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary outside of the current borders of Hungary. This is known as the Trianon treaty, the legal basis of which was the Wilsonian idea; of national self-determination applied to the various minorities within the former Kingdom of Hungary. As people often have the annoying habit of not settling solely alongside those of fellow ethnicity in nice, contiguous territorial blocs, and with Hungary being on the losing side in WWI, the various new borders left a lot of Magyars outside of a very reduced Hungarian state. This gave rise to Hungarian irredentism, combining a call for the return of areas where Magyars lived with the longing for the good old days when Budapest called the shots and not all these upstart successor states,
Miklós Horthy, a former naval officer, took power in 1920. He ruled as "Regent", styling himself “admiral” because he had attained that rank in 1918 as a member of the Austro-Hungarian navy. Post-WWI Hungary only possessed 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 in office and had both the Arrow Cross Party (the Hungarian version of the 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 was 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 Panslavic ideals and outlawing the communist party. His resignation led to the Arrow Cross taking over the government and the Hungarian part of the Holocaust ramping up. These diehard antisemites could see they were losing the war and decided to carry out as many of their genocidal ideas as they could. 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 terrorized the populace, abducting and executing political opponents. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians captured by the Red Army, including civilians who just happened to live in the combat zone, were deported to the Soviet Union as forced labor. With much encouragement from US/CIA-run radio stations in Western Europe, the Hungarians mounted a counter-revolution in 1956. They managed to declare an independent Hungary for a couple of weeks. However, the Western powers decided not to risk WWIII, and despite their lip service support, they left the Hungarians to be crushed mercilessly by the Soviets. It didn’t help that the Hungarians had the misfortune of mounting their uprising when France and the United Kingdom had decided to give the old imperial battle dress an outing before being slapped down by the US in the Suez Crisis. Afterward, the Soviets allowed a more moderate János Kádár to take power as a more "benevolent dictator" than the Stalinist regime of the pre-1956 era. Kádár’s long reign became known somewhat tongue-in-cheek as Goulash Communism from its focus on appeasing ordinary Hungarian via a sort of “socialist consumerism” and relaxation of political control, not allowing opposition parties to challenge him, but at least not violently repressing them either, except for the crackdowns in the immediate aftermath of the 1956 uprising. As time went on, though, Kádár’s Goulash Communism increasingly relied on loans from the West to keep up Hungary's consumerism and living standards. As this became increasingly unsustainable with Kádár well into his 70s, his hold on power weakened, leading to his removal in an internal party coup in 1988. This new communist regime would not last long either. As the entire Eastern Bloc crumbled during the following year, Hungary peacefully overthrew its communist government and began to transform from a command economy to a capitalist market-based one.
The new capitalist regime did not fulfill its promises either; the destruction of the collective farms and the rapid privatization and subsequent destruction of the state industries threw the Hungarian economy into chaos, and social inequality rose. Numerous politicians and their cronies took the opportunity to sweep up whatever they could during the privatization 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).
For 20 years, Hungarian political life was dominated by two parties, the
ex-communist social-democratic MSZP, and the elitist, liberal-conservative Fidesz. However, MSZP lost much of its popular support due to a brutally honest speech delivered by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány to the 2006 party congress and then leaked to the public, which sparked violent protests led by Fidesz and by former Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The protests and the 2008 financial crisis led to the popular collapse of MSZP and the Hungarian left in general and to the rise of the far-right (Jobbik), which paved the way for Orbán's takeover of the country. In 2014, Orbán declared Hungary an "illiberal state". In 2020 six opposition parties from all over the political spectrum joined forces to get him out of power. Time will tell if this unlikely alliance succeeds in ousting Orbán and creating a functional government afterward.
The Hungarian language (Magyar) is a Uralic language, which is unrelated to almost all other European languages except 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 the given name(s). So, a person named "John Smith" in other Western countries would be named "Smith John" in Hungary. Hungarian has a highly complex and structured grammar, extensive agglutination (think portmanteau, except it can go on for several words), and 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 and unusual consonant combinations make written Hungarian very recognizable.
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 decisive defeat in 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 then (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 and radical, not to mention they allied with a non-secular party, KDNP. After winning the elections in 2010, the party had won an overwhelming 2/3 majority and 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. According to some experts, the result is a finely written constitution. It undeniably skewed to the right-conservative side (civil partnership but never marriage for LGBT people). It lacked the character that, for example, its American and German counterparts have. However, the new constitution was not put up to a real vote; they did send out a "National Consultation” ballot to every Hungarian, but this was neither a legally binding one, its contents were not debated in parliament (and even if it were, since the 2/3rds majority, only questions allowed by Fidesz would’ve been on it), and the questions themselves were dubious. Some questions were pointless from a legal standpoint ("Should the constitution protect the environment?" "Should the constitution ensure the safety and well being of future generations” "Should the constitution protect such mutual values as family, order, home, work and health" (The three possible answers were: Yes, this is important; No, these are not important; 3. I don’t understand the question). Amusingly, one of the questions was, "State and EU funding should only go to companies, whose structure is clear, and easy to see". Amusingly, FIDESZ faces allegations of corruption and handing out funds to its own circle, but more about that below. The entire vote was an elaborate propaganda plot to give themselves legitimacy. Around 917000 people (~11% of the voter population) returned their ballots. Fidesz has claimed that the constitution (or "Fundamental Law” as it is called in Hungarian, not constitution) was "as solid as granite” ("Now, twenty years after the toppling of communism and removal of the Soviets, we finally have a granite foundation for the future”.) The constitution has been amended 7 times as of late 2019 (mainly to push through legislation that would’ve been considered going against the constitution, such as adding "terrorism" as a legitimate cause to grant emergency powers to the government.)
A major hysteria was started when a new media law - molded from bits and pieces of other EU media laws - was introduced. Backed by Orbán's detractors in western Europe, there was widespread panic about media neutrality influencing the country's international reputation. On a more fact-based level, however, the real 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 Finland, is entirely EU conform.
Thanks to no serious alternatives being present in the next elections, and their success in gaining independence from international organizations like the IMF that sought to influence domestic policies, 2014 saw Orbán reelected with another 2/3 majority. Thanks to Orbán's policies being aimed largely against multinational corporations who continue asking more in Hungary from poorer people for the same things than in Germany, his detractors have a lot of financial, political, and media backing. 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; the traffic (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 found numerous cases of people close to Fidesz (including the neighbour of one of the Fidesz Ministers) gaining tobacco licenses; 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; 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.
In economic terms, all serious economic meters show that the country is recovering at least as fast as the rest of Europe from the recent recessions, 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.
Interestingly Fidesz has "birthers" among their detractors. 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 try to defend this statement with some horrible photos, one with terrible lighting (made his skin look darker, racists claim Roma people have darker skin), and one with an ugly mustache (stereotype). The problem is that his father and grandfather also were Orbán from birth, but the "birthers" can explain it. Needless to say, there are many more valid reasons to criticize Orbán's presidential dictatorship.
The Fidesz regime has been caught up in a few scandals (but none were big enough to bring about any significant political change).
After gaining power, they revamped how parliament works. Previously it had 386 seats for MPs; now, it has 199. This (among many other "voting reforms") allowed Fidesz to gain a 2/3rds majority - 133 seats (66.8%), in 2018 despite only getting 49% (2 824 551 votes) of the vote. Interestingly, under the previous 386-seat system, MSZP, the winner of the 2006 elections and the party with the most votes (2,336,705), only had 48.2% of the seats in parliament.
Fidesz has been building its right-wing media empire since the 90s, headed by Orbán's then best friend since college and party treasurer, Lajos Simicska. The big break between the two happened for reasons that are still up for debate, but it all came crashing down on Feb 6, 2015, when Simicska’s people at his press outlets were reshuffled. This prompted him to decry that Victor Orban is a sperm (Orbán egy geci – Geci is a vulgar insult frequently used by Hungarians, it most closely resembles the word "cum"). The Orbán-Simicska conflict ended with Simicska losing most of his influence, press outlets, and his people were pushed out and replaced by pro-Orbán people. The most famous battle of the conflict was around the commercial-network TV channel, TV2, the 2nd most popular commercial network. Both parties made a bid for the television; Simicska made his first, but the pro-Orbán side won after a legal battle. The network was then handed over to Hungarian-born American producer Andy Vajna (a close friend of Orbán who owned all of the casinos in the country). With Vajna’s death, the current owner of the TV is unknown, but it is still very much pro-Fidesz. In 2018, KESMA (Central European Press and Media Foundation in English) was founded to oversee and manage most local newspapers, pro-Orbán online news outlets, tabloids, TV networks, and radio networks. Most pro-Fidesz press seems to be controlled from one place, as local newspapers often print identical front pages and articles. They also often are forced to pay fines and post redactions and corrections when writing anything but the Fidesz circle (109 in 2018, offenders include the public TV network M1, which is entirely state-funded, to the most popular online and print newspapers. In contrast, "opposition" news outlets had to post corrections 14 times). In October 2019, one of the few remaining independent online news sites held a presentation about the state of the Hungarian media before the LIBE committee of the European Parliament, which described, in detail, the current state of the Hungarian media.
Most of Orbán’s circle, and the elite of the Fidesz Party have been accused of rampant corruption. Two of the most important ones however, are directly related to Orbán Himself. His son in law, István Tiborcz, and his childhood friend/neighbor Lőrincz Mészáros, who became the 1st most richest hungarian, from being a gas-fitter, without having any sort of formal education or previous business experience. Tiborcz: Orbán’s son-in-law, who has business interests in construction, real-estate. His wealth went up exponentially, after marrying Orbán’s daughter. In 2018, he had an estimated net worth of $114,532,250. The most controversial topic of his is concerning the company ELIOS. A company specializing in replacing streetlights to more modern LED lights. Not only do these new lamps provide less light, the European Anti-Fraud Office (commonly known as OLAF) raised concerns about how the EU funds were handled by the company. They turned over their findings to the Hungarian authorities, which weren’ very keen on investigating the case. As of 2019 the company, and thus Tiborcz himself, is still under investigation, but no charges have been brought forward, by neither the EU or the hungarian authorities. Mészáros: With an estimated net worth of $ 1,248,223,680 is the richest man in Hungary. He only recently took the throne, in 2018 . Most people assume that Mészáros is only a proxy for Orbán. His meteoric rise to top curiously seems to coincide with the amount of state funds and government contracts being assigned to his companies. Listing out his various business ventures would deserve an article of it’s own, but suffice to say, he is rather controversial. (,)
Other scandals include
- Blocking an opposition PM from submitting a public referendum question, by hiring private security, to block his way at the national voting agency. The men have been referred to as Kopaszok in the media, due to their shaven heads. People pointed out that most of these men are actually connected to Fidesz, as many recognized them as the same security team used in securing football matches. Their employed Gábor Kubatov, a Fidesz member and owner of the most popular Hungarian football team. Most of the men also have criminal records. As of 2019, no charges have been brought against the men()
- Hiding Ghait Pharaon, a known criminal, who is wanted by the Interpol, for having ties to funding terrorism
- Not declaring who used to secretly report to the USSR, prior to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc (Although, no government since 1989 actually went through with declassifying these files)
- Refusal to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), despite overwhelming public support.
- Orbán has claimed that his system is now against liberal democracies, refers to Hungary as an "illiberal democracy".
- Plastering advertisements with heavy anti-semitic undertones, that are all claiming that George Soros is behind everything that is ever brought up against Orbán and Fidesz.
KDNP: (Keresztény Demokrata Néppárt - Christian Democratic People's Party) A minor Christian fundamentalist party with 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 and 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's 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, and 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 that 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 a fierce police crackdown on protesters on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution. In their accuracy of historical reenactment, some more violent protesters tried to storm the public television HQ to have their demands read. The main concern was 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, making them 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 popularity in recent polls (it helps that Fidesz's 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 elected or whether they will repeat their past mistakes.
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 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 party's path; some are outright Hitlerites; most are ultranationalist 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. However, the party is notoriously rocked by scandals. One of its prominent members was expelled after it was discovered he was a Jew (although another member quickly clarified how that was not, in fact, the reason). Others regularly get arrested by the police for various more or less petty crimes.
While they are 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" on the website Kuruc.info - a Hungarian Metapedia that operates with American servers (to avoid being shut down by the authorities) and advertises Jobbik frequently. Funnily enough, the Obama administration complained about the far right being allowed to wreak havoc in Hungary and spread radical messages. 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 that no new party can ascend above the corrupt, rotten Hungarian political climate.
Együtt 2014: (Together 2014) Formerly one of the opposition parties, "E14" was a union of several organizations campaigning for freedom of the press, democracy, and other liberal causes. It was led by Gordon Bajnai(at first), a former MSZP member who led the government for a year during the 2006-2010 term after Gyurcsány's resignation. Their ideology was not much different from that of the MSZP, and the source of most of its support was Bajnai's charismatic character. It makes sense then that it declined after he retired, and its attempts to create a "New Pole" to unite with other small parties and discredit Fidesz and the MSZP as part of the "world before 2010" failed to revitalize it. It disbanded after a poor showing in the 2018 elections.
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 Tea Party 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, mainly 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.
MKKP: (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt - Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party) A semi-satirical, surrealist political party that holds "anti-anti-immigration" as one of its main platforms, led by Gergely Kovács. In 2006, every electoral candidate was named "István Nagy," a mashup of two prevalent Hungarian names. In 2016, the MKKP put up billboards poking fun at right-wing xenophobic campaigns with slogans like, "Did you know? During the Olympics, the biggest danger to Hungarian participants came from foreign competitors." 6% of voters cast a spoiled ballot in the 2016 migrant referendum following encouragement by the MKKP to do so. One candidate in Győr-Moson-Sopron county spent 5 minutes of interviewing time on TV clucking in Hungarian and wore a chicken suit for public appearances. His campaign promises included such gems as replacing school buses with helicopters and promoting free trade with other planets. Unfortunately, they only got 1.7% of the votes in the 2018 elections.
- Monty Python's "Hungarian Phrase Book" sketch on YouTube
- Basic law ‘exemplary’; criticisms ‘nonsense’ - Interview with German constitutional law expert and former federal minister Rupert Scholz about the new Hungarian basic law
- EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR DEMOCRACY THROUGH LAW (VENICE COMMISSION) OPINION ON THE NEW CONSTITUTION OF HUNGARY
- Amicus Brief for the Venice Commission on the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law and the Key Cardinal Laws
- Hungary PM 'ready to change' media law if EU demands
- Media: Commission Vice-President Kroes welcomes amendments to Hungarian Media Law
- 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.
- Hungarian Media Law: In Keeping with EU and International Standards
- Hungary Does Without EU and IMF
- IMF-deal: the stress-test of the Orbán-government
- Unicredit Bank - Lakossági kondíciós lista 
- APPLE iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 32GB ezüst (mnv62hc/a) 
- APPLE iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 32 GB 9.7 Zoll Tablet Silber 
- HypoVereinsBank - Konten im Überblick 
- Soros foundation vows to continue working in Hungary despite government crackdown 
- "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." 
- Hungary's tobacco law: Leaked tape causes outrage 
- Hungary hopeful of Paks II approval within weeks 
- "Stricter border patrols and the makeshift wall have led to a significant decrease in the number of refugees reaching Hungary." 
- Austria ready for 100km border fence with Hungary 
- Moody's upgrades Hungary's government bond ratings to Baa3; stable outlook