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.
According to 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 Budapest.
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 prosecution.
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.
School management resigns in protest
The management of the SZFE Theater and Film Academy in Budapest is resigning in protest against a new arrangement which means that the school is subordinated to a private foundation, whose director is not only the director of the National Theater but also one of Prime Minister Orbán’s confidants. The department is a small elite university founded 155 years ago. The students start a protest action and barricade themselves in the school. The department is the seventh university to be transferred to private foundations with boards hand-picked by the Orbán government.
Foreign Minister in windy weather
A tiring day at the office or a holiday on a luxury hunt? Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is facing resignation demands after he was photographed on a luxury hunt in Croatia at the same time as he himself gave the impression of working hard in contacts with other EU countries about the situation in Belarus. The news site Atlatszo states that the hunt belongs to the construction magnate László Szíjj, one of Hungary’s most wealthy people, who, among other things, won a number of government contracts. As far as the holiday is concerned, Prime Minister Orbán has called on his countrymen to return home, and neighboring Austria has explicitly warned of rising coronation in Croatia.
The opposition agrees with Orbán
The six largest opposition parties have stated that they have formed an alliance that will challenge Prime Minister Orbán in the next parliamentary elections in 2022. In all 106 constituencies, they will agree behind common candidates. The alliance consists of parties from right to left. In the recent local elections, the opposition parties made partial use of this kind of cooperation, and this led to them winning in Budapest and several other cities (see 13 October 2019).
Bulk purchase of military equipment from the USA
12th of August
Hungary will buy US fighter jets worth $ 1 billion. A letter of intent has been signed and the deal with the manufacturer Raytheon is described as NATO’s Hungary’s largest purchase of military equipment from the United States to date. Hungary for what Prime Minister Orbán calls a pragmatic foreign policy: the goal is good relations with Russia and China as well. Chinese Huawei is allowed to build Hungary’s 5G network, despite opposition from the United States and several other NATO countries.