Saturday, January 7, 2012

Things happening in Hungary

Well, it's not about kidnappings or car bombings, but Hungary's news is getting a bit heated lately. A new constitution was put into effect with the start of the new year. Basically it is being called an "unconstitutional constitution", even by the U.S. (Although I think some very right-wing U.S. republicans would support the current Hungarian Prime Minister's views. He's like Rick Santorum on conservative steroids.) The new laws include:

No rights for gay people.
No religions except the 10 or so recognized by the government. That means no Hinduism, Buddhism, or certain Christian denominations.
Government controlled media.
And various other human rights violations (the media says).

In all honesty, I don't understand everything the new laws do or don't allow, but I do know that the U.S. and EU are up in arms about the whole thing. As well as Hungarians, of course. New Years Eve was celebrated by many here with a protest, rather than fire works and champagne. From what I've read, I would protest too. It seems like the current Hungarian leaders want to go back in time 30 years. But some Hungarians do too. It surprises me that in the 21st century there are still people who are so prejudice: anti-semitists, anti-gay, anti-Roma, anti-homeless. Unfortunately, it's true all over the world.

As my husband says, "Don't hate."


  1. It is not that bad, the majority still supports the Fidesz-KDNP, so am I.
    They certainly do not violate freedom of press, or human rights, but they really put some old-fashioned christian values into the constitution, Like marriage is between the man and woman, everything is now be done by the holy crown.(this sounds great to me XD), now making abortion illegal is not requires change in the constitution, because it is now a murder even if it is still legal. They kicked out the former regime agents from various institutions, by creating new institutions like the Media Council. I know that this sounds very dictatorious , but they won 2/3 majority for a reason, the former MSZP-SZDSZ coalition was so corrupt, that they dragged the whole country with themselwes. Corruption was so widespread that nearly everyone felt that sweeping changes needed.The Roma-hatred was far more worse during that time, because in the name of the free-speech, and freedom, they allowed radio and Tv-stations to talk about gypsy-thieves,this is why the new media law and Council took place, now if there is far less gypsy hatred in the media and during the MSZP-SZDSZ rule the radical right wing JOBBIK organized some kind of paramilitary organisation called "Magyar Garda" without weapons to make the gypsies afraid of them, and they marched through small willages in the countryside, so things were far-more worse, now they are banned.Oh and the MSZP-SZDSZ talked day and night how widespread is the Roma-hatred, but they refused to ban the "Magyar Garda" in the name of free thought, thanks but never again.
    That anti-homeless law(Homelessnes is illegalXD) is a tool for the government to put the homeless people to same place even if they refuse, during the winter, many of them have mental problems.

    By the way in the Hungarian culture do not talk about politics,until you are really good friends, and/or you more or less share the same viewpoint, and your viewpoint is probably not shared by the majority, moreover they will tell you that mind your own business, or that USA killed 1 million people in Iraq, and whatever, so spare yourself the unpleasentness.Most people saw the Soviet forces and we are still a little paranoid. I hope I didn't offend you :) , I just want to spare the unpleasentness for you:)

  2. Whoever you are Anonymous, thanks for sharing your view points. I always like learning more. And I agree with you about the US. I am American, but America is just as corrupt as many countries out there. Just putting out my views as I'm learning. Thanks for sharing yours.

  3. that video BROKE my heart. Glad you're learning about the country you live in ..

  4. Overall, yes the new Constitution has problems, but none of the issues above are at the level of concern you seem to raise.

    - No rights for gay people.

    The constitution allows civil unions between gay couples to be registered, but defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Not allowing gay marriage certainly gives gay people "less rights", but saying they have "no" rights is clearly false. You may not know this, but this is similar to the law in most every other European country (a fact easy to look up on the Internet), both in the EU and outside the EU. Take for example Switzerland which allows gay civil unions but is so "backwards" that it bars gay couples from adopting. Yet I see no protests in Bern against the Swiss....

    - No religions except the 10 or so recognized by the government. That means no Hinduism, Buddhism, or certain Christian denominations.

    The constitution mentions "recognized" religions -- or in other words those that get tax breaks, special treatments, etc. The US government (especially the IRS) does not recognize every religion either. You can still practice whatever religion you want in Hungary, you just won't get a tax break, special treatment, or funding for it. I am simplifing this a bit, as there are some nafarious issues here ase well, but those are too complex to deal with here.

    - Government controlled media.

    There are significant new regulations, but most of those issues and uproar all blew over and were dead last summer once the EU actually got a copy of the Law. The real problem is the Hungarian government's inability to clearly and officially report what they are doing in a foreign language allowing a lot of incorrect interpretations to be "reported" abroad (which I might add for this inability at communication the government somewhat deserves the bad press it gets abroad).

    The new media law has significant and real problems, certainly, but think of this controversy as being at the same level as people in the US think that the EPA or Endangered Species act as "Government Control". In other words: opinions differ depending which side you are on and who you talk to.

    But overall, it is more interesting what you did not mention and which can/will be a very real issue and is of long term political and social concern:

    The new constitution's limits on the constitutional court has significantly weakened the political checks and balances in Hungary.

    Imagine a sitting US congress limiting the rights of the US Supreme Court because Congress did not like what the Court ruled. That is more a problem than anything you mentioned above because it is the Court that alone has the power to challenge such laws if they validate human rights or not. That is the real point of concern that the Western Media completely dropped the ball on.

    In closing, there is an old saying: "believe half of what you see and nothing you hear". Consider that double when you deal with the Western media reports on Hungary.

  5. why doesn't this anonymous person quit being a coward, and actually use their name. especially if they plan on blog-stalking like they are doing...

  6. Will

    I was the first Anonymous, the second was another person.:) XD
    -and I just like reading these blogs from all around the World, you do not know me.

  7. Actually i also believe that most of the things you mentioned are pretty much inaccurate, indeed, there are differences of opinion, as everywhere, but some things are obvious - if the government would control media, how come there is so much criticism about it in every newspaper etc in hungary?

    There are some real issues in the new constitution - we all debate if they are right or wrong, but it is important to note that thus far EU (which is the main authority for EU members, not USA anyhow), has not been able to find yet anything to complain, except the central bank law, which is still work in progress (and that is very complicated issue to be honest within the context of EU banking regulation - and not relating to any extent to human rights but managing the pretty difficult financial situation in europe in consistent manner), and relating to media regulation, final version was totally acceptable for EU:

    It you are really interest in the topic, i would suggest to check EU directives for media, which are the basis for the law, and most parts of it are almost direct copy of UK law for Ofcom. The major issue which way printed press should be managed, there are different ways to do it in europe but the necessity to control it comes from EU directives. Whether hungarian way is optimal, again can be debated but it is in line with spirit although not historical tradition in some other countries (which have self-regulation before courts).

    In terms of religion, easiest thing is to read the actual text (it can be found in english from here, however, this has nothing to do with freedom of religion, but automatic access to government finances. In most European countries have most 1 or 2 churches - if any - in that position - not 14 (in principle from the point of view of equality the big problem is that atheist have no access to government money ever, but adding more churches would not make the law better, just worse. Nobody seems to complain at all for the rights of atheists, which is strange. However, even for them, it is better to have less of churches than more.

    This government is definitely pushing the envelope in many aspects, however, most of the things are can be checked easily what is actually true and what is polemics.

  8. For the church law, just read the chapter I, section 1 which clearly states that everybody as full freedom for religion, to preach, manifest, teach, either alone or jointly with others.

    The big problem is the Chapter IV, section 19 that equals recognized church as part of public sector, entitling it to receive money from government and equals church employees as public sector employees. For americans, this might look strange, but note that in Europe we have different historical tradition, and in Scandinavia which is in all rankings considered to be no 1 in terms of human rights etc there is exactly church at all in this respect (lutherian church which is actually formally part of state - the same for Church of England which is not separated from state).

    As mentioned before, most european countries do not recognize gay marriage the same way as marriage between man and woman (not even all countries in scandinavia) - especially as it comes to adoption etc.

  9. Lots of good information everyone. Thanks for sharing. In response to most of my political views in general (no matter the country), I think most governments are corrupt after living in a few different ones. So if you read this blog, you will continue to see random posts criticizing and making fun of various political issues, especially in America (bring on the election), and then Kenya and Hungary on occasion. I love it when people want to be part of the conversation, whether you agree or not. So feel free to join in! (However, if you're easily offended, you may want to stop reading now. :)