Dossier: Focus on Hungary

Dossier: Focus on Hungary

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is compiling a dossier containing articles on the situation in Hungary since the right-wing government came to power in April 2010. The arguments and opinions presented in the dossier provide an acute, sometimes trenchant critique of the current government and its policies. We see our role in supporting the democratic voices in Hungary and raising public attention in Europe with regard to critical developments in our common political space.

We hope that this dossier will help our readers get a better grasp of the controversies surrounding the socio-political changes in Hungary, and thereby involve members of the European public in the crucial debate on democracy in a changing Europe. This debate is not limited to current developments in Hungary. We see democracy as a never-finished task. There is no guarantee against retrogression, and it’s always up to citizens to reinforce democratic structures and procedures through their engagement in the public sphere.

Ralf Fücks, President, Heinrich Böll Foundation
Eva van de Rakt, Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Prague (Eva.vandeRakt@cz.boell.org)
Zsófia Deák, Editor of the dossier (Zsofia.Deak@cz.boell.org)

Current Developments

Protest in Hungary 2016
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On 13 February, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest. The protest was organised by school teachers, but a number of other unions joined the initiative to express their solidarity.

Transit zone in Hungary
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Declaring Serbia a safe third country was the first of Hungarian repeated violations of human rights. Hungary turned the humanitarian crisis into a purely political issue. It seems that Europe too will choose to follow the politics of closed doors.

closed Hungarian border
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Xenophobia and efforts to turn public opinion against “social welfare migrants” are not a new invention. But the fact that every solution that comes from the EU is ignored – this is something new.

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It remains to be seen whether the majority decision on the redistribution of 120,000 refugees was a clever move. In Central Eastern Europe, the voices against the “dictate of the majority” cannot be ignored.

Röszke, Hungary, September 2015
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A special EU summit of heads of state and government will take place on 23 September. After years of neglect, however, a solidary EU refugee policy cannot be elaborated in summary proceedings and under pressure. A commentary by Eva van de Rakt.

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After images of Budapest’s Keleti train station illustrating the need for a fast EU assistance programme for refugees: the governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia reaffirmed their vehement “no” to refugee quotas.

Background Analysis

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Since 2010 Fidesz has managed to win all parliamentary by-elections leading up to a resounding victory of Viktor Orbán at the parliamentary elections in April 2014 and easily won municipal elections in October 2014. Recently things have changed dramatically.

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It is not only constitutional democracy that Viktor Orbán’s regime treats as its enemy; the Hungarian government has also launched a forceful attack on the welfare state. A concise overview of the latest reforms - and an assess of their consequences for poverty and social inequality.

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How does Prime Minister Viktor Orbáns emphasise on the importance of Christianity in Hungary’s history effect recent politics? An analysis of new regulations concerning religious freedom and churches, which redefine the relationship between the state and certain churches.

Hungary and EU flags
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The dominant West European narrative according to which Orbán is seeking to move Hungary to Europe’s political periphery is at least partially flawed. What is missing is not a pro-European policy, but rather a vision of Hungary's role in the EU.

cover political orientations

Nearly 25 years have passed since the collapse of communism in Hungary. Has this period allowed for the emergence of a new generation of democrats? Empirical findings from Andrea Szabó.

enthusiastic consumers non committed democrats

Political socialization has been an absolute failure in the new Hungarian democracy. Facts and figures from "Political Capital - Policy Research & Consulting Institute" in co-operation with Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

"Green Bridge" in Budapest
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The left-of-centre opposition parties ended the protracted period of negotiations by creating a type of alliance. The alliance exhibits resembles the former governing left-wing coalition and has hitherto been incapable of mounting a serious challenge to the ruling right-wing majority in 2014.

LMP / Greens demo 17th April 2011
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The next Hungarian parliament could include two green formations: Dialogue for Hungary (PM), which will surely have some members in parliament, and Politics Can Be Different (LMP). If LMP surpasses the election threshold an independent parliamentary group is guaranteed.

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An amendment has made it illegal to sleep rough in world cultural heritage areas, which cover Budapest’s entire city-centre. Now there is a long list of additional areas in Budapest where homeless people can be subjected to forceful removal and penalties. How did we get here?

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Philosopher Péter Rauschenberger ist co-founder of the Hungarian green party (LMP), which he left in January 2013. In his article he gives an overview on the different actors of the “democratic opposition” under the Orbán government and explains, why they struggle to build stable alliences.

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In July a three-year process of the reform of the Hungarian electoral procedure law has come to an end. With the changes in the voting system the leading Fidesz-KDNP party foremost seeks to convert its relative popular majority into an absolute majority in Parliament. An analysis of the reform's effects.

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Péter Krekó, research director of Political Capital, and Kornélia Magyar, director of the Progressive Institute, analyse the performance of the Fidesz government and reflect on the prospects for Fidesz and opposition parties in the 2014 election year.
 

Videos: Agents of Change

More Articles

Demonstration in Budapest
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From my hotel room in Budapest at the weekend, I followed the images of Germany’s Willkommenskultur, the country’s policy and manner of welcoming refugees and migrants. They have now been granted permission to travel via Austria to Germany.

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For four days now I have been in Budapest, a witness to a drama that I would have considered impossible in an EU capital not long ago.

poster
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In June, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that his government would build a fence along the Serbian-Hungarian border to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.

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There is probably no illiberal state without a comprehensive ideology – an ideology that justifies just about anything.

Demonstration against the National Consultation
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"We’d like to retain Hungary as Hungary", says Victor Orbán in January 2015. Xenophobia is significant in his country. How a multicultural and multi-ethnic society became a mono-ethnic and closed one.

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Why the Russian regime and the Hungarian far right are in an intimate relationship. A new study by Political Capital and Social Development Institute.

Vladimir Putin with PM Viktor Orbán on a visit to Hungary in February 2015
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Putin’s visit to Budapest in February 2015 was his first bilateral meeting in an EU and NATO member country since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. By inviting him Budapest has broken Europe’s tacit agreement on a united Russia policy, and is arguing for a normalisation of relations with Russia.

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The recent terrorist attacks in Paris evoked strong reactions all around the world. The Hungarian government has reacted with proposals to restrict freedom of speech and by highlighting the problems of immigration.

Orbán
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On 2 February, Angela Merkel flew to Budapest to spend five hours in the Hungarian capital. This seemingly routine and uneventful flash visit was nonetheless much anticipated on the Hungarian side.

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On 2 February, Angela Merkel visits Hungary. The German-Hungarian friendship has undergone fundamental changes in the recent past - and the rewriting of Germany’s Russia policy also entails reshaping its ties to Hungary.

Mária Szilágyi
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How do you organise a drama festival with international guests on a 6,000 € state subsidy? Well, you need a lot of enthusiastic volunteers, as well as visitors, who are completely committed to the cause.

theatre scene
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“We were born to the world to be at home in it somewhere,” wrote the Hungarian author Áron Tamási. Yet not only the feeling of being at home, but also that of homelessness may be a common denominator among people who live in the same space – in the same cyberspace.

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According to its mission statement, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts in Budapest is a receptive venue unique to Hungary, where various genres are presented in an individual and authentic manner. An Interview with Managing Director György Szabó.

energy
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Hungary continues to extend its energy relations with Russia causing another major tension in the already heavy-loaded Hungarian-EU relations.

Classroom in Budapest, Hungary
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Almost three years have passed since the enactment of changes to the general law in Hungary. The overall message of the Orbán government’s new education system is:  you belong where you were born. An analysis.

Democratic Renewal

Our panel discussion from May 31 featured three speakers from Hungary: Péter Krekó, research director of Political Capital Institute; Gordon Bajnai, prime Minister candidate of the "Together 2014-PM" electoral alliance; and Benedek Jávor, co-president of "Dialogue for Hungary". The following video interviews present their perspectives on the upcoming Hungarian elections.
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After the split of Hungarians green party LMP, two parties and strategies have been developed for a consistent eco-policy. The prospects regarding the upcoming elections are not extremely rosy for either side. 

Implications for Europe

On 3 July, the European Parliament adopted the resolution “on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary”, which criticises the state of fundamental rights and the rule of law in Hungary. MEP Rui Tavares, the rapporteur in charge of wording the report, discusses the resolution’s afterlife and its implications.

Archive

Events

Jun 24Jul 14
The Last Illusion
Berlin
Jun 24
Film screening
Oct 17Oct 18
3rd International Conference on Men and Equal Opportunities
Esch-sur-Alzette

Dossier

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is compiling a dossier containing articles and interviews on the situation in Hungary since the right-wing government came to power in April 2010. Our intention is to raise awareness about the changes in the domain of public life in Hungary.