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Tag: Hungary

A country of grumblers? Hungarian values and how to misunderstand them

Are Hungarians ill-fated and determined to be incapable of overcoming their historical baggage? Some seem to think so, including some sociologists. Yet, it is worth remembering that political trajectories do not follow pre-drawn patterns, so we should look at the circumstances which can hold societies back in their democratisation.

Something is rotten in Hungary and the international media coverage seems quite keen on pointing this out. However, it offers very little explanation for why it is happening. International interest in Hungarian politics has increased, especially since the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in 2016 – which illustrated how serious the far-right shift of mainstream politics has become. Yet, Hungary had already been under the illiberal supermajority for six years, and by then it was well past all the major battles in which its democratic institutions had faced.

November 17, 2020 - Réka Kinga Papp

A timeline, interrupted

The politics of today’s populist leaders is nearly always the eternal return to the past. 1989, however, represents a normative stop they would prefer to skip.

The past does not exist. It is what one makes of it. From a purely axiological point of view, every one of us is constructed of different pasts and we have different memories at our disposal. The non-existence of the past as a tangible point of reference is a subject of individual or collective creation and interpretation; it is the founding assumption of any sociological research devoted to mnemonic subjects.

November 17, 2020 - Mateusz Mazzini

“Either you are with us, or against us”: has the Hungarian media fallen into complete obscurity?

The recent turmoil at the news outlet Index is yet another example of how the government led by Viktor Orbán has been changing the media landscape in Hungary.

August 26, 2020 - Eter Glurjidze Soso Dzamukashvili

Volcanic vintage. The historic Hungarian wines of Lake Balaton

Writers and artists have long been attracted to the strange and romantic landscape of Badacsony, with its sharp volcanic hills overlooking smooth Lake Balaton. Stories about the wines from vineyards around Lake Balaton in west central Hungary go back over 2,000 years.

The fourteenth-century Hungarian King Charles Robert once travelled to Veszprém on the north shore of Lake Balaton to visit a bishop. Before dinner, the king noticed a gigantic cup in the monastery treasury. “The monks used to drink from it long ago,” the bishop told him. As they sat down to eat, the king asked that the cup be placed at their table. The bishop announced that none of the canons at the table could possibly drain the massive tankard, with the possible exception of the formidable Father Eusebius. The king challenged Eusebius to take the cup and uphold the honour of the house, but the father declined and held his ground despite the needling and beseeching of the assemblage.

July 7, 2020 - Eric Bryan

A bridge that nobody crosses: history and myth regarding 1918–20 in Hungary and Romania 

An interview with historians Marius Turda and Ferenc Laczó. Interviewers: Csaba Tibor Tóth and Gáspár Papp.

June 25, 2020 - Csaba Tibor Tóth Ferenc Laczó Gáspár Papp Marius Turda

Foreign interference in the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine: The 2019 elections and beyond

The complex history of the Zakarpattia region explains the current geopolitical and cross-cultural dynamics of the region, as well as the persistent interest that neighbours Hungary and Russia have shown for it.

May 6, 2020 - 'Harry Nedelcu Dmytro Panchuk Myroslava Lendel

New illiberalism and the old Hungarian alphabet

The history of the politics of scripts in modern central Europe is characterised by the gradual limitation of their number. The re-emerging Rovás and Glagolitic scriptures could be used to foster regional revisionism and tension.

April 30, 2020 - Tomasz Kamusella

God, luck and Viktor Orbán

Over the last ten years, Hungary has become a textbook example of systemic corruption and clientelism in the heart of the European Union. Yet despite the fact that EU institutions have developed a wide range of tools, they could barely curb Viktor Orbán’s regime with regards to its feudal system of corruption.
In order to understand the nature of Viktor Orbán’s regime in Hungary, it is worth reading the classic Hungarian novel Relatives by Zsigmond Móricz. Móricz tells the story about a fictional town that is a hotbed of systemic corruption and a clientelist network of provincial nobility between the wars in Hungary. After 30 years since the democratic transition, its thesis about feudal dependency applies to contemporary Hungary more than ever: “In a certain way, everybody depends on the government.”

January 28, 2020 - Edit Zgut

In Between Europe #24: Judicial independence in Hungary

In the last episode of 2019, we look at the state of play in the judiciary in Hungary and what the most recent amendments mean for rule of law and the independence of the court system.

December 17, 2019 - Zselyke Csaky and Gergely Romsics

No bloody revolution

The year 1989 unfolded quite differently for Hungary than the rest of the Central European states where there was some sort of revolution. As opposed to all other countries in the Eastern bloc, the new political system that came into place was seemingly designed in advance.

The consensual term for the historical events that took place in Hungary in 1989 is rendszerváltás. In Hungarian it literally means “changing of the system”, as in Changing of the Guards. There are two other versions: rendszerváltozás (“the change of the system”, using an intransitive verb) and rendszerváltoztatás (“making the system change”, with a transitive and causative verb), reflecting some politico-linguistic subtleties that may be hard to grasp for a non-Hungarian speaker. The word “system” has special Hungarian connotations here, meaning the constitutional order or form of state.

May 2, 2019 - János Széky

A tangled legacy: coming to terms with history in Uzhhorod

The Zakarpattia province of western Ukraine is home to various ethnic minorities including 150,000 Hungarians. With its complex past, how will the region fare as both Hungarian and Ukrainian right-wing groups ramp up their nationalist rhetoric?

February 26, 2019 - Nikolas Kozloff

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

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