Hungary. Prior to the parliamentary elections in April,
the right-wing opposition had a strong takeover in public
opinion. The Socialist government, led by the partyless
Gordon Bajnai, had implemented unpopular austerity measures
with reduced wages and pensions and with increased taxes.
The finances had been redressed, but at the same time the
people's anger had been stirred.
In addition, support for the right-wing and Nazi-inspired
party Jobbik, which blamed the economic crisis and
corruption on so-called enemies of the people: Roma, Jews,
homosexuals and communists. Jobbik's paramilitary branch of
the Hungarian Guard had been banned but resurrected as the
New Hungarian Guard, which advanced violently in Roman
villages. Jobbik also wanted to create a Great Hungarian
with parts of neighboring countries such as Slovakia and
Romania. About 3.5 million Hungarians live in neighboring
After two rounds of elections, the center-right party
Fidesz (Hungarian Citizens Union) had won a grand victory
with 52.7 percent of the vote and over two-thirds majority
in parliament, 262 of 386 seats. It allowed the party to
change the constitution and elect the president without
seeking support. After eight years in government, the
Socialist Party MSzP suffered a stinging defeat. MSzP more
than halved to 19.3 percent of the electorate and 59 seats.
The third largest party was Jobbik, who for the first time
entered Parliament with 16.7 percent of the vote and 47
seats. Another newly formed party, the Green and Left
Liberal LMP (Politics may be different), received 16 seats.
Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán, 46, took office as prime
minister in May. He had promised to cut taxes and create a
million new jobs in ten years. But nationalism was also on
the program. Fidesz wanted to give ethnic Hungarians in the
neighboring countries the opportunity for dual citizenship.
It provoked upset reactions in Slovakia. When the Hungarian
Parliament voted in favor of the dual citizenship law in
May, the people elected in Slovakia replied the same day
with a law that deprived Hungarian citizens of their Slovak
COUNTRYAAH, Fidesz politician Pál Schmitt, 68, was elected in June by
Parliament as Hungary's new president. He was installed in
the office in August.
In July, the new government decided to suspend its talks
with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on support loans,
as the IMF's terms on reduced budget spending were not
accepted. The financial market reacted negatively to the
government's message, and the value of the currency forint
fell. The government decided not to negotiate any new
agreement with the IMF when the old one expired in October.
A major environmental disaster occurred in the autumn in
western Hungary, when a dam burst and about 700,000 cubic
meters of corrosive sludge from an aluminum plant rolled
like a two-meter high wave through several villages. At
least ten people were killed and many suffered chemical
burns. Nature was poisoned by mercury, chromium and arsenic
in the sludge, and life in the Marcal River was
extinguished. The poison also reached the Danube. The
remediation work was expected to take one year.
At the end of the year, Viktor Orbán's government had
problems with the economy. The promises of tax cuts and
other economic policies had lowered confidence in the
market, which feared that the budget deficit would grow over
time. Therefore, Hungary's credit rating was lowered, which
caused the currency to decline in value. It was speculated
that the government must return to the IMF to negotiate new
When Hungary took over the EU presidency at New Year
2010/11, the country's government received harsh criticism
in the Union for a contentious constitutional change, which
Parliament voted in December. A government agency was given
the task of controlling the content of the media and
imposing fines for publication that was considered offensive
or "politically unbalanced". Hungary was accused of stifling
freedom of expression, and the country's suitability as EU
President was questioned.