Hungary. The year was marked by political and ideological
struggles between the right-wing government and right-wing
extremist forces, on the one hand, and a liberal opposition
on the other.
One of the founders of the Hungarian Citizens Union
(Fidesz) government party and friend of Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán described in a newspaper article in January
Roma as "animal". The statement disgusted the opposition,
urging the ruling party to exclude the journalist.
In a small town in eastern Hungary, the mayor decided to
name a street after World War II's Hungarian leader Miklós
Horthy, allied with Adolf Hitler and co-responsible for the
deportations of Jews to the concentration camps. It aroused
strong reactions among Hungarian Jews.
At a football match in the spring, attacks on Jews
occurred both physically and verbally, among other things
called "Sieg Heil". The right-wing party Jobbik held a
demonstration in conjunction with the Jewish World Congress
conference in Budapest, and Prime Minister Orbán received
criticism from Jewish leaders for being apologetic to the
right-wing extremists. Among other things, a statue of Raoul
Wallenberg had been vandalized.
Countryaah, the government's plans to change the constitution met
resistance both within and outside Hungary. The EU expressed
concern over a development that limited democracy and
freedom of expression, and in Budapest widespread protests
led by the opposition. One turned, among other things.
against weakening the powers of the Constitutional Court and
the President and giving the government the opportunity to
enact laws that had previously been rejected. The
government's broad majority of over two-thirds of
Parliament's mandate was enough to approve the controversial
legislative changes in March. Major protests followed in
In the same month, Finance Minister György Matolscy, with
close ties to Prime Minister Orbán, was appointed new head
of the central bank. Shortly thereafter, one of the bank's
deputy managers resigned in protest against the appointment
and the government's influence over the bank.
The government was also accused of corruption when a
licensing system was introduced for the sale of cigarettes
and tobacco. Stores were no longer allowed to sell the
goods, and the government was accused of distributing the
licenses to their own sympathizers. Information on how the
tendering process was initiated was strangled by a new law
that restricted the right to public information from
authorities and courts.
When the EU threatened with sanctions against Hungary,
the government declared that it would change the criticized
new parts of the Constitution. In July, however, Prime
Minister Orbán defended the disputed constitutional
amendments before a critical EU parliament, where many felt
that the Hungarian government's decision threatened freedom
of expression and human rights.
In June, a 98-year-old former police chief was charged
with organizing the deportation of over 15,000 Jews to the
concentration camp in Auschwitz. The man was never
investigated when he died a few months after the
In August, the verdict fell in a well-publicized case in
which three men were charged with the murder of six Roma in
2008 and 2009. The brutal killings had provoked disgust
within and outside Hungary, and the police had been accused
of failing to protect minorities adequately. The three men
were sentenced to life imprisonment and an aide to 13 years.
According to a human rights center, about 60 cases of hate
crimes against Roma were reported in 2008-12.
In October, Parliament passed a law allowing
municipalities to prohibit people from sleeping outdoors.
Violations of the prohibition can be punished by community
service, fines or imprisonment. The law was justified by the
need to safeguard the general order.