For Viktor Orbán, the pandemic has offered an opportunity to undermine the European Union and curry favour with Hungary’s authoritarian allies.
Many aspects of normal life have been suspended in Hungary due to the coronavirus, including parliamentary democracy.
Amid the intractable struggle in Israel/Palestine for the moral high ground of legitimate victimhood, Europe has a historic responsibility.
Local elections in Hungary have placed a question-mark over the durability of the ‘illiberal democracy’ of Viktor Orbán.
For almost half a century following World War Two, Hungary’s Communist regime exercised far-reaching controls over virtually every aspect of society, including education and culture. A state-sanctioned ideology, an approved historical narrative and politically ’reliable’ writers were actively promoted in Hungary’s schools and universities as well as through the arts. At the same time, conflicting […]
When my father and his parents returned to Orosháza in Hungary, having been held as slave labourers in Vienna during the latter stages of World War Two together with thousands of Hungarian Jews, my father, then aged seventeen, embraced Zionism. Joining the secular, left-wing Hashomer Hatzair movement, which advocated Jewish emigration to Palestine, communal life […]
There is a palpable sense of gloom and foreboding amongst liberals, moderate conservatives and those on the Left in Hungary following Fidesz’s unexpectedly decisive victory in the April 8 parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Orbán and the Fidesz-KDNP coalition swept to their third successive triumph at the ballot box, gaining two thirds of the seats in […]
Hungarian voters disenchanted with the cronyism, pseudo-populism and creeping authoritarianism of the ruling Fidesz-KDNP government have a bewildering array of opposition parties to choose from. Indeed, that may be part of the problem. Apart from the MSZP or Hungarian Socialist Party, which evolved from the former Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, they include the Democratic Coalition […]
In a recent article in Social Europe, Andrew Watt and Steven Hill contend that the EU “should not fear” secession. The authors argue that Catalonia’s secession from Spain and other potential cases of secession could actually “enhance the European continent’s richness and diversity”, provided the EU can establish criteria “for a rational and forward-looking foundation […]
Boris Johnson’s recent article in the Telegraph, ‘My vision for a bold, thriving Britain enabled by Brexit’, raises a host of troubling issues. Not least, Johnson accuses young people he encounters in Britain, who have the twelve stars of the European Union flag “lip-sticked on their faces”, of “beginning to have genuinely split allegiances”. He […]
In George Orwell’s bleakly prophetic novel, 1984, Oceania’s totalitarian regime strives to mobilise popular support by holding up the figure of Emmanuel Goldstein as a mortal threat to the state and its citizens: He was the primal traitor…all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was […]
For several weeks, streets in Budapest, as elsewhere in Hungary, have been awash with government-funded placards representing an overt incitement to racial and religious hatred. Far from portraying those fleeing to Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries as genuine asylum seekers, escaping brutal and apparently intractable civil conflicts, the posters characterise them as […]
“The Jews are rallying!” wrote Naz Shah in an infamous Facebook post just months before she was elected Labour MP for Bradford West. “Your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists [my emphasis] that were killed by Hitler”, declared a Facebook post shared by Khadim Hussain, then a […]
In the 1980s, when I was teaching at the University of Exeter, my late wife and I often spent fine summer weekends on the pebbly beach at Budleigh Salterton. In addition to its splendidly evocative name there was something wonderfully retro and English about Budleigh Salterton. Tea rooms and bowling greens, gentleman’s outfitters selling striped […]
Although West European policy makers have been slow to recognise the fact, the Iron Curtain was never the only or necessarily the most important feature dividing the continent. As governments in Hungary and now Poland neutralise many of the key institutions of liberal democracy – robust and impartial courts with far-reaching powers of constitutional oversight, […]
Visiting the UK, after eighteen months in Eastern Europe, I have been struck by the easy-going multiculturalism that is Britain. Whether in London, Bristol or Liverpool, the three cities on my itinerary, recent immigrants from the European Union – from France and Spain as well as Poland and Romania – mingle comfortably with Black, Asian […]
As European leaders grapple with the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has repeatedly expressed his belief that the mostly Middle Eastern and predominantly Muslim refugees represent a grave threat to Europe. Orbán has argued that the ‘migrants’ (he refuses to acknowledge that most of them may be genuine refugees) represent […]