Hungarian Red Army monument in Újpest. Fidesz and Jobbik have partnered to have it demolished.

History wars: Hungarian radical leftist writes to college classmate, Gábor Vona

Hungary is a small country and early twentieth century author Frigyes Karinthy’s theory on the six degrees of separation isn’t really applicable to a society of this size. As it turns out, during his university days, the chairman of the Left Party (Balpárt), Szilárd Kalmár, lived in the same dorms as Gábor Vona, the leader of the far-right Jobbik party. […]

by · April 22, 2015 · Focus
Lajos Erdélyi, an 87 Holocaust survivor, holds an illustration made by a campmate in Auschwitz. Photo: László Balogh/Reuters.

Victims or perpetrators? Hungary isn’t the only country haunted by Nazi collaboration

The Polish government is in the midst of a polemical and defensive historical debate around World War II and the Holocaust. The official Polish narrative could have been taken directly from the speaking points of the Orbán government in Budapest, which has enshrined in the country’s constitution the preposterous idea that Hungary was purely a victim of German occupation and […]

by · April 20, 2015 · Focus
Szabolcs Nótin, editor-in-chief of the pro-government Hungary Today online paper.

Hungary Today responds to HFP article: The pro-government foundation does not receive public funds

Dear Editor,  I would like to point out some mistakes that took place in the following article about Hungary Today and its publisher, the Friends of Hungary Foundation.  On the same issue, we have written an article earlier, fyi. The Foundation has never received or applied for state funding and covers its operation costs exclusively from private and corporate donations. The Foundation is committed […]

by · April 19, 2015 · Focus
Marion Smith, the president of the Common Sense Society in Budapest. Photo: CCS/Facebook

The Hungarian right’s new “Common Sense” voice: Orbán in English translation

I stumbled upon the so-called Common Sense Society and its blog, “Paprika Politik,” completely by accident. A friend and prominent Hungarian civil rights activist, Eszter Garai-Édler, drew my attention to this youthful, cheerful, well-dressed group of thoroughly respectable young professionals, who enjoy research grants and write English-language articles, all about how Hungary finally crossed the Rubicon in 2012, when the […]

by · April 18, 2015 · Focus
Proportion of students in Hungarian public schools, by county, who are of Roma origin. Source: MNO's map, based on data obtained from HVG.

Hungary’s demographic revolution? Roma youth comprise a third of all students in eastern Hungarian counties

Attila Z. Papp, a researcher affiliated with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Minority Studies Institute, presented research findings on significant demographic changes in Hungary that made headlines in the Hungarian media. The conservative Heti Válasz weekly magazine wrote about a “demographic revolution” and how there are now 298 schools in Hungary where Roma students form the majority of the pupil […]

by · April 9, 2015 · Focus
Alternative Holocaust memorial in Freedom Square. Photo: Christopher Adam.

Remembering the dead in Hungary: An example of civic engagement

It’s impossible to detach public history and collective memory from contemporary politics. How a society portrays the past is determined by current realities, contemporary values or interests, as well as the dominant, “preferred” narratives of history. But the government and public institutions don’t have a monopoly over the past ; where civic engagement is strong, grassroots organizations and local activists […]

by · April 6, 2015 · Focus
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó (left) with Chilean counterpart Heraldo Muñoz (right). Photo: Francisco Leon Puga.

Hungarian Foreign Affairs is serious about its southern “strategy”

I put the word “strategy” in quotation marks for a reason. When Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, gathered together his increasingly rag-tag group of lackeys and personal football friends-turned-ambassadors and diplomats earlier this month to announce, alongside Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the ministry’s decision to replace its policy of “opening to the east” with a new “opening to […]

by · March 30, 2015 · Focus
The new warm, friendly face of Jobbik? There are more and more photos of Gábor Vona that portray him as a warm, modern, average guy, including this one, which appears on his public Facebook profile.

Jobbik’s Gábor Vona made to look prime ministerial in Magyar Nemzet interview

The Magyar Nemzet daily, owned by Fidesz-oligarch Lajos Simicska, who had a very public falling out with his long-time friend and former roommate Viktor Orbán, published a lengthy interview with Gábor Vona, leader of the far-right Jobbik party this weekend. It’s most certainly a long-shot to think of Mr. Vona as a prime minister-in-waiting, but it has also now become […]

by · March 29, 2015 · Focus
Roundtable at Concordia University on March 3, 2015. Photo: CA.

Experts call for international action on Hungary’s rule of law violations

An international panel of experts at Concordia University drew public attention to one of the greatest credibility challenges faced by the European Union since its inception: the government of an EU member state – Hungary – has been openly defying the “Rule of Law”, and the core values the Union is formally committed to uphold. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán`s […]

by · March 6, 2015 · Focus
Lajos Oláh at Concordia University on March 3, 2015.

Hungarian embassy in Ottawa stages cabaret at Scheppele-talk in Montreal

When I was riding back from Montreal late Tuesday evening, after a roundtable discussion hosted by Concordia University on the state of the rule of law in Hungary, I didn’t think that a short video I produced starring the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa and their completely surreal act would find its way onto nearly all of Hungary’s major internet […]

by · March 4, 2015 · Focus