March 15

It’s the 15th of March today which is the most patriotic Hungarian national holiday. Hungarians wear a cockade on this day of the year to commemorate the 1848 anti-feudalism revolution and the ensuing freedom fight against the Austrian empire.  Eventually the Hapsburg ruler called for help from the Russian tzar, within the framework of the post-Napoleonic  Holy Alliance, and the preponderance of  Russian army defeated the Hungarian one in August, 1849.

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I’ve just returned from the city where I was listening to Prime Minister Orbán’s speech. Here is my cockade and here is some food for thought from his speech:

“March 15 is proof that we lived, we live and we’re going to live. That’s our triumph.  We have always won the wars for the survival of our country and nation here at the crossroads of cultures, empires and civilizations…

On this day, an assassination shook ancient Rome 2061 years ago. Revolutions broke out in Europe in 1848 and Europe is approaching a state of revolution now, too.  Nations rebelled against the Unholy Alliance of Brussels bureaucrats, the liberal global media and  international bankers always craving for more profit. First the Brits rebelled then the Americans did and this year the rebellion will continue… Brussels and the international financial capital may not care about the safety of European peoples. But we do.  They may not care about our staying Hungarian. But we do. We must defend our borders, we must prevent crowds with alien cultures from settling here, we must make the foreign financed lobby networks transparent and we must keep the right of deciding on our taxes, minimal wages or our regulations for utilities.”

mar15crowd

Since our Polish friends took their own good part in these historic events,

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traditionally Polish people come to Budapest on March the 15th to celebrate, too.

That’s why Orbán’s speech could be read in Polish on a nearby screen.

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As always on this day, there will be family programmes as well.

DSC_0021However not only Hungarian and Polish patriots attended the speech.  This man, surrounded by a gang of similarly looking men, started a very loud siren close to the place where I was standing.  Surprise, surprise: Three or four busy photojournalists were shooting their expensive cameras right there…  “Something should be done” was the helpless word in the crowd which did want to listen to  Orbán’s speech.  Tensions were rising.  I took this picture of the siren man and I quickly made my way back through the crowd where I had seen some heavily built, bouncer looking security guys.  I guided them to the yellow trousers.  His siren was still on. There was no justling or fighting. After a few minutes of talking and muscle flexing, the security guards made the siren stop and they escorted yellow trousers and his cohort out of the crowd. Hopefully I ruined the day for the photo reporters. 😮

All right, now back to the family programmes. 🙂

Update:  Read, or listen to, the full speech in English here.

The knife

  1. If the turnout rate exceeds 50% and there are about 80% NO votes then Viktor will get Crocodile Dundee’s knife.
  2. If the turnout rate is below 50% and about 80%  of the votes say NO to the forced migrant EU quota  then Viktor will get the knife of “the kids having fun”.

 

Update:   It looks like he got only a big sharp kitchen knife. The referendum had a 43.31% turnout rate and the validity threshold is 50%. This means the referendum result is not legally binding for the Hungarian Parliament. However it was a “conclusive referendum” because 98.32% (yes!)  of the valid votes said NO.  In comparison, the  turnout was 45.62% on the referendum on Hungary’s EU membership in 2003 and 84% approved.  PM Orbán’s stance on the EU migration policies were supported by more than three million votes, that is a one million more than how many voted for his party on the last general elections in 2014. This means that the overwhelming majority of the politically active Hungarian voters reject the migration policies of the EU, that is their attempts to legalize illegal migration from the Middle East and Africa into Europe, and they support Orbán’s fight.

 

 

Do you want to allow the European Union …

to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Hungarian National Assembly?

 

 

 

NO

Wikipedia article

 

 

Happy 1016th birthday, Hungary!

It’s St. Stephen‘s day today.  As most readers would know, people celebrate their “nameday” in Central and Eastern Europe and this is the nameday of our founding king, St. Stephen I. There are all sort of programs today: concerts or

Augusztus 20. - Mesterségek ünnepe

the traditional Artisans’ Fair in Buda Castle

Then there will be the fireworks as well tonight, of course.

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From a political point of view,  cabinet minister János Lázár, Prime Minister Orbán’s right-hand man, delivered a remarkable speech this morning:

Hungary has never renounced her sovereignty. An independent Christian state is St. Stephen’s heritage. The European Union is not a many century old political union, it’s a pilot project.  Today’s unelected European leaders with zero legitimacy try to tweak the basic treaties of the EU in stealth mode to their liking.  The EU is stricken by financial crises, Brexit and the migration crisis.  Brussels tries to sweep the chief problem, that is the diminishing prestige of the EU and the uncontrolled millions knocking on the gates, under the carpet with their mandatory migrant quota idea. Hungary’s preserving her sovereignty serves the interests of the European community, too.

If needed then we’ll defend Europe even from herself. Hungary will not let down those European citizens who are dissatisfied with Brussels. It’s not the idea, it’s the practice of  the European Union what is wrong.

There will be an EU summit on the migration crisis and Brexit in the capital of V4 country Slovakia ( Pozsony, Bratislava) in September.  We live in interesting times.

Hungary’s GDP growth highest in the EU

Hungary has embarked on a period of economic growth which could put the country among the fastest-growing European Union member states

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on the 25th of August,  addressing the annual meeting of Hungarian mission leaders.

 

Today’s news is that the Central Statistical Office (KSH) has confirmed their preliminary GDP growth figure: Hungary’s gross domestic product increased by 3.9% in the second quarter of 2014 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.  That’s 0.8% on a quarterly basis.

Now this is the highest growth in the European Union.

KSH  has also revised the first quarter GDP growth data  today and they have upped  it to 3.7% year-on-year from 3.5% y/y.

Here’s the break-down of the growth data by sectors (on a quarterly basis):

 

 

Analysts warn that the growth will slow in the second half of the year because of the economic impact of the EU-Russia conflict. However the expected yearly growth of the Hungarian economy in 2014 is still 3.1%.

HUNGARY: WHY THE FORCES OF DARKNESS ARE DESPERATE TO CONTROL VIKTOR ORBAN

And this old post must be read, too. It was written on the 18th of January, 2012, five days before hundreds of thousands Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest in freezing cold in defense of the Orbán-government.
PM Orbán later said several times this huge rally prevented EU/IMF from doing to what Hungary what they did in Italy and Greece, that is replacing their democratically elected prime ministers with their stooges.

 

The pro-Orbán rally on the 23rd of January, 2012

The Slog.

Orban…bad guy who may do some good?

While the media in general are paying far more attention to Greece and its determination to play by the rules and thus win back market respect, Hungarian maverick Viktor Orban takes the opposite view. He may well represent a far bigger threat to the shibboleths of our current form of capitalism.

It’s hard to be anything other than equivocal about the rumbling Hungarian crisis. On the one hand, Magyar Prime Minister Victor Orban appears to be in the same Bonkers League as Recep Erdogan, displaying as he does the familiar mix of controlling political power-grabs, while pursuing economic policies best described as All over the Place. But on the other hand, Orban was elected with an overwhelming majority, he inherited most of the fiscal problems from the previous deficit-obsessed New Labour-style government (Peter Mandelson had quite a few ‘friends’ in it), and…

View original post 1,445 more words

Hungary’s economic boom vs credit rating agencies and the Economist

Hungary’s central bank has published the latest trade balance figures today. The trade balance surplus was  984 million Euros in the first quarter of 2014 and that’s more than double what it was a year earlier (463 millions).  There is a very significant increase compared to the last quarter of 2013, too (710 million Euros).

Hungary’s GDP growth was a “big surprise on the upside” again in the first quarter of 2014:  3.5%.  Foreign investments increased, too.  The inflation is zero so the central bank could safely cut   Hungary’s base rate to a new low of 2.3% today.

 

The CDS is the price of insurance against a particular country’s defaulting and it measures the risk of investors.  The higher it is, the higher the default risk is.  Let’s have a look at the CDS pricing of Hungary’s mid-term (10 year) government bonds. The CDS has reached pre-crisis levels.

 

CDS of 10-year Hungarian government bonds

 

In principle the big credit rating agencies rate the government bonds using such criteria as above. In reality they all rate the Hungarian government bonds in the “junk” category now and they all rated Hungary’s government bonds as “investment grade” in 2009… when the postcommunist MSZPSZDSZ coalition was busy ruining our economy… in the “orthodox way”, that is following orders coupled to the huge, 25 billion Euro loan they took out from the EU and IMF .

Yup, Hungary’s bonds were of “investment grade” when the CDS pricing was record high in 2009 and they became “junk” in 2011-2012 when the “unorthodox policies”, which seem to deliver big results by now, were implemented.

The downgrade of Hungary’s ratings reflects further deterioration in the country’s fiscal and external financing environment and growth outlook, caused in part by further unorthodox economic policies, which are undermining investor confidence and complicating the agreement of a new IMF/EU deal

Fitch wrote then.  Two years later Hungary’s GDP growth is one of the highest in Europe.

And what does The Economist  write about Hungary?  Well, only the usual libnazi bullsh*t  about Hungary’s role in the Holocaust and some more politically motivated drivel.   Yes, just check it out yourself with a search for the past month.  That’s about all those Economists have to say.

 

 

Bye, bye, Danone

“Due to a significant decline in sales”, international food company Danone is closing sites in Hungary, Germany and Italy, the company has announced on Wednesday.

 

 

Why is this interesting on this blog about Hungary’s politics?

Well, Danone has become a kind of a symbol of  cheap “halálmiszer”.  That’s a portmanteau of “halál” (death) and “élelmiszer” (food, “élet”  means ‘life’, “szer” means ‘stuff, substance’).

One couldn’t buy that kind of artificial, chemical food in the justly condemned Communist dictatorship I grew up in.  I’ll risk the statement that such “food”  products, for example like Danone yogurts, were not sold in Hungary even before our joining the EU in 2004.

Here are a few of their deceiving marketing gimmicks Danone has been selling their cheap, and possibly unhealthy, stuff with:

  • They substituted milk for something who-knows-what  in their kefir in 2008 and then they kept selling it at the same price, in the same packaging. Okay, they had to reverse this quickly enough.
  • Their 175 gram yogurts were reduced to 150 grams first and then to 125 grams… for the same price.

  • Their  big marketing campaign “Könnyű és finom” (Light and Tasty) was actually about removing fruit content from their  fruit yogurts.
  • The labels on their yogurts read like this: “Ingredients:  milk, sour cherry substance 13% (sour cherry 60%, …)”

 

Let’s see what Wikipedia writes about the health effects of one of these ingredients, called Xanthan-gum:

Evaluation of workers exposed to xanthan gum dust found evidence of a link to respiratory symptoms

On May 20, 2011 the FDA issued a press release about SimplyThick, a food-thickening additive containing xanthan gum as the active ingredient, warning “parents, caregivers and health care providers not to feed SimplyThick, a thickening product, to premature infants.” The concern is that the product may cause necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, dairy, or soy. As such, persons with known sensitivities or allergies to food products are advised to avoid foods including generic xanthan gum or first determine the source for the xanthan gum before consuming the food.To be specific, an allergic response may be triggered in people sensitive to the growth medium, usually corn, soy, or wheat  For example, residual wheat gluten has been detected on xanthan gum made using wheat.This may trigger a response in people highly sensitive to gluten. Xanthan gum is a “highly efficient laxative,” according to a study that fed 15 g/day for 10 days to 18 normal volunteers. Some people react to much smaller amounts of xanthan gum with symptoms of intestinal bloating and diarrhea.

 

Danone is part of a bigger problem though:  Hungary has been flooded with junk food by the West, often with stuff they couldn’t even sell in Western Europe, and people, either because of ignorance or because that’s what they can afford , feed on this junk. “Free market proponents” would argue that people vote with their money.  I’d say the Hungarian state should protect Hungarians with administrative measures, too, from literally junk food.

I avoid shopping in Tesco  supermarkets in Hungary because they suck so much.  Shopping in British Tesco shops is fine with me.  The icing on the cake is that prices don’t really differ so  much…  The  difference often lies in the quality of goods these multinational companies sell in Hungary and in Western Europe.

Anyway, will Danone leave Hungary? That would be good riddance.

 

Related articles

 

Orbán and Horthy

Orban is a rare political leader in Europe. He is quite popular, but he is in a balancing act. To his left are the Europeanists, who see all his actions as a repudiation of liberal democracy. On the right is a fascist party that won 20 percent in the last election. Between these two forces, Hungary could tear itself apart. It is in precisely this situation that Weimar Germany failed. Caught between left and right, the center was too weak to hold. Orban is trying to do what Horthy did: strengthen his power over the state and the state’s power over society. He is attacked from the left for violating the principles of liberal democracy and Europe. He is attacked from the right for remaining a tool of the European Union and the Jews. The left believes he is secretly of the right and his protestations are simply a cover. The right believes he is secretly a Europeanist and that his protestations are simply a cover.

Now we add to this the fact that Hungary must make decisions concerning Ukraine. Orban knows that Hungary is not in a position to make decisions by itself. He has therefore made a range of statements, including condemning Russia, opposing sanctions and proposing that the Ukrainian region directly east of Hungary, and once Hungarian, be granted more autonomy. In the end, these statements are unimportant. They do not affect the international system but allow him to balance a bit.

Orban knows what Horthy did as well. Hungary, going up against both Germany and Russia, needs to be very subtle. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policy toward liberal integration within the European Union, which fundamentally contradicts Hungary’s concept of an independent state economy. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policies that undermine Hungary’s economic and social well-being. Orban’s strategy is to create an economy with maximum distance from Europe without breaking with it, and one in which the state exerts its power. This is not what the Germans want to see.

Now, Hungary is also facing a Germany that is not in a position to support Hungary against Russia. He is potentially facing a Russia that will return to Hungary’s eastern border. He is also faced with a growing domestic right wing and a declining but vocal left. It is much like Horthy’s problem. Domestically, he has strong support and powerful institutions. He can exercise power domestically. But Hungary has only 9 million people, and external forces can easily overwhelm it. His room for maneuvering is limited.

I think Orban anticipated this as he saw the European Union flounder earlier in the decade. He saw the fragmentation and the rise of bitterness on all sides. He constructed a regime that appalled the left, which thought that without Orban, it would all return to the way it was before, rather than realizing that it might open the door to the further right. He constructed a regime that would limit the right’s sense of exclusion without giving it real power.

Russia’s re-emergence followed from this. Here, Orban has no neat solution. Even if Hungary were to join a Polish-Romanian alliance, he would have no confidence that this could block Russian power. For that to happen, a major power must lend its support. With Germany out of the game, that leaves the United States. But if the United States enters the fray, it will not happen soon, and it will be even later before its role is decisive. Therefore he must be flexible. And the more international flexibility he must show, the more internal pressures there will be.

For Horthy, the international pressure finally overwhelmed him, and the German occupation led to a catastrophe that unleashed the right, devastated the Jews and led to a Russian invasion and occupation that lasted half a century. But how many lives did Horthy save by collaborating with Germany? He bought time, if nothing else.

Hungarian history is marked by heroic disasters. The liberal revolutions that failed across Europe in 1848 and failed in Hungary in 1956 were glorious and pointless. Horthy was unwilling to make pointless gestures. The international situation at the moment is far from defined, and the threat to Hungary is unclear, but Orban clearly has no desire to make heroic gestures. Internally he is increasing his power constantly, and that gives him freedom to act internationally. But the one thing he will not grant is clarity. Clarity ties you down, and Hungary has learned to keep its options open.

Orban isn’t Horthy by any means, but their situations are similar. Hungary is a country of enormous cultivation and fury. It is surrounded by disappointments that can become dangers. Europe is not what it promised it would be. Russia is not what Europeans expected it to be. Within and without the country, the best Orban can do is balance, and those who balance survive but are frequently reviled. What Hungary could be in 2005 is not the Hungary it can be today. Any Hungarian leader who wished to avoid disaster would have to face this. Indeed, Europeans across the continent are facing the fact that the world they expected to live in is gone and what has replaced it, inside and outside of their countries, is different and dangerous.

by George Friedman, the Chairman of Stratfor.  The full article can be read here.

 

I don’t agree with everything Friedman writes but certainly it’s a very interesting analysis on Hungary’s situation.

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Orbán on Hungary’s interests

Applying economic sanctions against Russia is not in Europe’s interests and especially not in the interests of Hungary.

said Prime Minister Orbán in an interview given to a Hungarian business newspaper.

One of the gas storage facilities Hungary bought back from EON

Answering a question about the possible role of US shale gas in supplying Europe, he also added

It’s in the best interests of Hungary to be able to buy natural gas whoever she wants to buy from. We have been able to buy only Russian gas so far even if that gas came from Austria.  As of this Thursday, we have access to Northern European gas, too, since Hungary has been connected to  Slovakia’s gas pipelines.  This is the very first time in history that if we don’t want to buy Russian gas for economic or other reasons then we can do so. This is an important step in the direction of achieving energy independence.  Our goal is clear: we have bought  the gas storage facilities to this end, too.  (Note: These facilities were sold in 2006 by the “left liberal” Gyurcsány government to the Germany multinational company EON.)

 

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