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Tag: Hungary

The long shadow of the dissenter: Challenges to public intellectual practices after 1989 in Hungary

The Hungarian story of how the social role of public intellectuals was undermined may help us make sense of what is happening elsewhere today. Hungary’s case highlights that the real danger to critical commentary and its functions in society arises not out of new media platforms, but out of the demise of the democratic multitude.

“In the 1970s and 80s, I met a fair number of western writers, most of them through György Konrád. In our conversations, the mystery that intrigued them the most was this one: how can opposition writers in Central Europe command such respect, play such an exceptional role in politics and in society – a role that they [the western authors] cannot dream about anymore.” Hungary’s prominent public intellectual Sándor Csoóri made this observation in 2006. At that time Csoóri, a one-time luminary of the Hungarian Narodnik tradition and of the post-1989 political universe as a whole, had been a bitter man for a decade and a half. He had been in the fulcrum of a controversy surrounding remarks he made concerning Jewish-Hungarian relations and the cleavage inscribed into them by the Holocaust.

January 2, 2019 - Gergely Romsics

The land of the warm breeze

Behind the cellars we come across a billboard with a mosaic showing a map of today’s Hungary. Overlaid on it is the map of Hungary from before the Treaty of Trianon. Marked in blue on the map are “Hungarian rivers” – the Danube, Tisza, Mureș and Sava. This piece of patriotic art reminds everybody that this 1920 defeat hurts Hungarians until today.

The Polish city of Krosno was drenched in sunlight. For a few days the warm wind wafts from the mountain pass. That southern gale is characteristic of this part of the Subcarpathia, or podkarpackie in Polish. In the autumn the wind brings beautiful, warm weather. Scholars call it a tunnelling wind to distinguish it from the foehn wind, or halny as it is called in the Polish Tatra Mountains. The wind follows the path once used by military troops and trading caravans – the lowest part of the bend of the Carpathian Mountains in the Dukla Pass. Today, the pass is known as expressway S19, the road that once served as the route through which Hungarian wines were brought to Poland.

January 2, 2019 - Katarina Novikova and Wiktor Trybus

NGOs in Hungary learn to adapt under pressure

Since the passage of a new anti-NGO law in Hungary, civil society organisations have been on the edge. No one knows for certain what will happen. The biggest fear is that there will be a backlash after the European Parliament voted to support triggering Article 7 against Hungary.

It is an average Monday at Menedék, a Budapest-based NGO. The team meets in a big conference room to discuss weekly issues and report back from the weekend, while project managers share recent developments, good and bad. The phones are off, but there is always somebody waiting for a random client to show up and ask for some assistance or to sign up for an activity. The mood is casual, as usual. The team is very diverse and made up of old and young members. They are expats from non-EU countries, former refugees, university students and experienced NGO workers.

November 5, 2018 - Balint Josa and Anna Fedas

A clockwork orange

The media landscape in Hungary has all but collapsed, with nearly all major Hungarian online and print media in the hands of the government or pro-government forces. Only a few remaining independent sources exist, and they do so under constant threat.

There is a weekly news magazine in Hungary. It is called Figyelő. When they meet foreign colleagues, its journalists like to refer to it as the Observer (which is the English translation of the word figyelő) – it sounds dignified. On Thursdays, the day that the paper is published, everybody awaits the big story that will land on Figyelő’s front page. It was known as a reliable source of exclusive information, often prompting an official response to its stories. This was the case until the end of 2016.

September 1, 2018 - Szabolcs Vörös

A portrait of Jobbik

A review of The Hungarian Far Right. Social Demand, Political Supply and International Context. By: Péter Krekó and Attila Juhász. Publisher: Ibidem-Verlag, Hanover, Germany, 2017.

August 23, 2018 - Adam Balcer

Is Russia transferring its political institutions abroad?

The leaders of Russia and Hungary might have very different backgrounds, but their approach to the judiciary and media is quite similar.

July 25, 2018 - István Pósfai Kirill Shamiev

Elections in Hungary: What Next?

In the latest episode of the "In Between Europe" podcast, the hosts speak with Zsuzsanna Szelényi, an independent MP in the outgoing Hungarian parliament to make sense of Fidesz’s third supermajority and explore the future trajectory of Hungary’s politics. History Minute: Gramsci and the Rural Vote in Hungarian History

April 16, 2018 - Zselyke Csaky and Gergely Romsics

Viktor Orbán’s third-term victory in Hungary. What does it mean?

On April 8th 2018, Viktor Orbán and his governing coalition won an overwhelming two-thirds parliamentary majority in Hungary and will be his third consecutive term in power. Last minute hopes believed that the opposition would fare well (due to high turnout), however, they fell seriously behind. In the end Fidesz will have 133 seats of the 199-seat parliament in Budapest.

April 11, 2018 - New Eastern Europe

Hungarian general elections: What is at stake?

Fidesz will start its next term in a context that may require a more flexible and cooperative approach. A few days before the parliamentary elections, a European repositioning of Hungary is quite possible. It is even desirable: just as Hungary cannot do without Europe, Europe cannot do without Hungary.

April 6, 2018 - Cyrille Bret and Michael Bret

Memory politics in CEE

This special episode of the "In Between Europe" podcast brings you an extended discussion on history. Gábor Egry, a historian at the Institute for Political History in Budapest is our guide as we try to construct a more nuanced interpretation of the current Polish memory row and touch on nation-building and history building in Romania and Hungary.

March 20, 2018 - Zselyke Csaky and Gergely Romsics

The trials of Ahmed H.

During an electoral campaign dominated by anti-migrant rhetoric, a Hungarian court has upheld a verdict of terrorism against a Syrian citizen — and the symbolism is lost on no one.

March 19, 2018 - Maxim Edwards

Satan’s hand: Russian meddling behind Budapest’s metro chaos

The head of Budapest's public transport was in the way of a Russian metro company's business with more than 200 million euros at stake. A KGB-style provokatsiya was utilised to get him fired and force the Hungarian capital to buy malfunctioning and expensive Russian metro cars.

March 8, 2018 - Szabolcs Panyi

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