Hungary. The year began with demonstrations against a new
working time law that gave employers the opportunity to
demand two hours of overtime by their employees each day.
The union led the protests that gathered up to 20,000 people
in the capital Budapest.
CountryAAH, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in January that the
election to the European Parliament in May would be a vote
on immigration. His government wanted to see as many
immigrant-critical politicians as possible in Brussels and
reduce the EU's influence on Hungary's migration policy.
Orbán presented a plan to meet the country's declining
birth rates and increase the number of children. He made it
clear that there were no more immigrants he wanted to see
but "Hungarian children". The government would subsidize
home loans to parents, write off certain loans when three
children were born, and tax-exempt women who give birth and
give birth to at least four children.
The Swedish Minister of Social Security tweeted that
Orbán's policy is "roaring 30s", which prompted the UD in
Budapest to call Sweden's ambassador. A derogatory comment
about the Swedish minister from a Hungarian minister in turn
led to the Hungarian ambassador being called to the Swedish
In February, opposition members decided to boycott
Parliament's work in protest of the new overtime law, which
in popular terms was called the "slave law".
Before the EU elections, the government had a poster
campaign with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
and Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros. The underlying
message was that Soros and the EU were conspiring to flood
Hungary with Muslim migrants. The campaign sparked protests
in the EU, and in March the Conservative EPP party group in
the European Parliament decided to suspend Orbán's party
Fidesz for the time being. There has long been criticism
within the EPP against the Orbán government's authoritarian
tendencies and restrictions on democracy.
When Orbán visited the United States and President Donald
Trump in May, he received tributes instead. Trump compared
the Hungarian leader to himself, saying that Orbán has done
a "fantastic job".
In the EU electoral movement, Fidesz launched a
seven-point program against immigration. Orbán said he
wanted to defend Christian European culture against
multiculturalism. Sweden was presented as a horror example
of how immigrants take over. The Council of Europe urged
Hungary to downplay the migration crisis propaganda, and it
was criticized for the judiciary's treatment of refugees.
But the voters were on Orbán's side. Fidesz won the
European elections clearly with just over 52% of the vote
and took 13 of the 21 Hungarian seats. Two Democratic Union
got only 16% and 4 seats.
Following criticism from the EU, the government withdrew
a bill that would have put the courts under the Justice
Minister's control. However, the government took control of
the research institutes belonging to the Academy of
Sciences. Orbán himself thus appoints the committee that
controls how the research grants are distributed.
The government's proposal for a Hungarian EU commissioner
was rejected by the EU Parliament's legal committee, citing
a conflict of interest between his law firm and his role as
minister. The government proposed a new candidate that was
approved in November, which delayed the European
Hungary's refusal to accept refugees under the EU quota
2015 was a violation of EU law, the Attorney General
declared in October.
In the fall local elections, Orbán's party Fidesz
surprisingly lost the mayor's post in Budapest. By uniting
behind a common candidate, the opposition managed to take
power in several cities, while Fidesz was strongest in the
countryside. The new mayor of Budapest gave police
protection to a cultural center with, among other things,
LGBT activists and Roma vandalized by neo-Nazis.
In November, the Supreme Court said that the government
must pay damages and publish an apology to the Hungarian
Helsinki Committee, which had been incorrectly described in
mailings to the country's residents. The committee works for
asylum seekers and receives grants from, among others,
George Soros, who has been subjected by the government to a
slander campaign with anti-Semitic undertones.
The author György Konrad died during the year 86 years
old. He was in opposition during the Communist era, when he
was imprisoned, and also against today's government which,
according to Konrad, is a post-Soviet dictatorship.