Thursday, March 29, 2007

Deadly Impact of the Riots

There is one huge problem with riots besides the fact that it is violent, nasty, and a useless, in fact, stupid way of expressing your feelings (whatever they may be) in a democracy. The problem I'm talking about is the impact of these riots on the economy thanks to people staying home instead of eating dinner with their loved ones somewhere in the city, or partying at a local club. If the specific democracy we're talking about is weak(like in Hungary) than a constant stream of riots can not only be painful to the country, but can have disastrous consequences.

A Hungarian portal devoted to tourism ( recently announced that the 15th of March riot caused the state 30 million FT-s. Compared to the riots in Fall, this is nothing (then we had damages of billions of FT-s). However, tourists are apparently staying away from Hungary this year. Because of a few hundred, maximum a thousand far-right street rioters (demonstrator is too soft a word for me) the whole tourist sector is in shambles. The people in the business don't know what to do other than turn to poor Mr. Demszky, mayor of Budapest, to help campaign for tourists. As a result, Demszky downplayed the the riots of March and tried to calm everyone in his letter in which he said that this 'turbulence was not a repeating of last fall's riots, it is a reverberation of it.'

Unfortunately, I'm not as optimistic as some are in this country. After all, the president of Fidesz and aspiring PM, said on the 15th of March before the riots erupted (I wonder if his speech has something to so with it...) that if the people vote against the policies of the government in the referendum, then 'the people can chase away the government for good.'

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nursery Rhyme

The date: 23rd of March. The time: 9pm. The location: at the 59 tram stop at Moszkva Square, Budapest.

A 30 something couple with their 5 year old kid get on the tram shoving in front of me so they can get on first. No problem, I thought. I just didn't understand what the rush was about (there was nobody on that public vehicle). After everyone found their place to sit, got comfortable, and the tram started moving I heard the little kid - sitting not far away from me with his parents - singing, or rather telling something reminding me of a nursery rhyme. Only in this case the lyric was sort of peculiar. It's not what they should be teaching at school or at home. Are you ready to know what it was? OK, here goes... The little 5 year old kid was saying: '

'dirty bastard Gyurcsány, dirty Gyurcsány
dirty bastard Gyurcsány, dirty Gyurcsány'

and said this for a couple of minutes without the parents telling him to stop, or at least to be quiet. I was sitting there terrified of what this country will become if the now very popular radical right and their ideologies (which supports putting politics in places where it does not belong: like in kindergarten and elementary school) get into power. What will 5 years olds start to say then? What will happen to 5 year olds who 'think' differently? And to their parents? To me and this blog...?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ferenc Gyurcsany (PM) Interview in 'The Times'

Gyurcsány, the Hungarian PM and now also the Chairman of the Socialist Party (MSZP) said in an interview last week that from Poland to the Balkans there is uncertainty as to whether these countries should follow a progressive modernisation policy, or the isolation of radical nationalism.

To the question whether Hungary has experienced a resurgence of Anti-Semitism since last Autumn Gyurcsány replied with a resounding yes. The waving of Árpád flags (Hungarian National Socialist flags) by the demonstrators at FIDESZ's (the largest opposition party) rallies and at every other demonstration indicates this, as do the Anti-Semitic pamphlets that are being handed out in places such as the University of Law in Budapest. According to Gyurcsány, the problem is that Fidesz and the party's leader, Viktor Orbán, doesn't want to distance himself away from this crowd. Last year at the Kossuth square 50 Jewish politician names were read out loud on stage by the demonstrators' leaders, and after the verbal bashing of these people, a Fidesz politician went on stage and bashed the government. Clearly, Fidesz wants the support of these few thousand people, the far right, commented Gyurcsány.

Later in the interview, the Hungarian PM went on to say that he accepted the chairmanship of his party (the Socialist Party) because the party has to be modernized, not because he wants to over-centralize power.

To the question why he became a hate figure for the nationalist right, the PM answered that in many ways he is the archetypal enemy of the right as before the political transition he was a member of the Communist youth movement, and after 1990 he became a successful businessman. The opposition (Fidesz) concluded that they lost the elections in 2002 and 2006 mainly because of him (Gyurcsány was campaign manager for the previous Socialist PM in 2002).

Concerning the reforms Gyurcsány and his cabinet have been carrying out for months now, Gyurcsány said that these must be carried through. The PM knows that it is painful at this stage for the Hungarians but he hopes that in the end the people will understand the importance of these reforms and the positive impact of them. 'If that is not the way they think at the next elections they can show us the door' Gyurcsány concluded.

The PM was critical about the opposition leaving the Parliament every time he opens his mouth there. The PM said that 'this does not only relate to me as prime minister but to the institutions of the republic itself. I pretend not to notice that they are absent and I do my job.'

You can read the full article at: