Hungary History since 2006

In the parliamentary elections on April 9 and 23, 2006, voters confirmed a government in office for the first time since the end of the communist regime in 1989. The Socialist Party (MSzP) won 43.2% of the vote and 190 of the 386 seats in parliament. Your coalition partner, the Bund Free Democrats (SzDSz), received 6.5% (20 seats). The government under Prime Minister Gyurcsány could therefore rely on an absolute majority of the mandates. In view of the highest national deficit of all EU countries, the new cabinet was forced to implement tough austerity measures. In order to get the newly elected MSzP parliamentary group in the mood for these austerity measures, Gyurcsány confessed in an April 2006 speech that his government lied to voters about the state of public finances. After the »lying speech« became known in the media, thousands of people protested on September 17, 2006 and in the following days in Budapest and demanded the resignation of the head of government. 200 people, mostly police officers, were injured in street battles with the police, some seriously. The country’s economic and financial situation remained tense in the period that followed. On March 15, 2007, according to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, thousands of people again demonstrated against the policies of the social-liberal government coalition in Budapest. In the presence of numerous foreign state guests, the celebrations for the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution (1848) were massively obstructed by right-wing extremists and ended in violent clashes with the police. With the spectacular “swearing in” of their first members at the Budapest Castle at the end of August 2007, the new “Hungarian Guard” attracted attention. The paramilitary organization of the right-wing extremist party JOBBIK leaned in its self-image and in its external symbols on the fascist “Arrow Cross” from the Second World War.

With the rejection of three already decided reforms to reorganize the social sector (additional payments for doctor and hospital visits as well as tuition fees) by a referendum on March 9, 2008, the right-wing opposition party FIDESz inflicted a heavy defeat on the governing coalition. With a comparatively high voter turnout of over 50%, citizens with rejection votes of over 82% each forced the withdrawal of the fees on April 1, 2008. As a consequence, Gyurcsány also moved away from the planned partial privatization of the health insurance system and dismissed the health minister of the coalition partner SzDSz. The SzDSz acknowledged the dismissal of its cabinet member by terminating the coalition. Gyurcsány has been in charge since April 28, 2008 a minority government based on 190 out of 286 parliamentary seats. High foreign debts and the devaluation of the forint brought Hungary to the brink of insolvency in the global financial market crisis in autumn 2008. In order to stop the dramatic collapse of the currency, the central bank raised the key interest rate in a spectacular step on October 22, 2008 by 300 basis points to 11.5%. A few days later, the World Bank, IMF and EU granted the country an emergency loan totaling € 20 billion. In return, Hungary committed to additional spending cuts in order to further reduce the budget deficit.

When Prime Minister Gyurcsány announced further austerity measures against the consequences of the economic crisis on February 15, 2009, the approval of his government finally collapsed. On March 21, 2009 he offered to resign. On April 14, 2009, the parliament elected the independent Minister of Economic Affairs Gordon G. Bajnai as the new head of government with a constructive vote of no confidence. He formed a cabinet of socialists and non-party experts that was tolerated by the SzDSz. An extensive austerity package was passed to relieve the state budget.

In 2010, Hungary continued to be affected by the financial market crisis. The parliamentary elections on April 11 and 24, 2010 led to a landslide victory for the national-conservative electoral alliance of FIDESz-MPSZ and KDNP under the leadership of V. Orbán, which was able to win a two-thirds majority in parliament. The right-wing extremist JOBBIK party succeeded in entering the parliament for the first time. On May 29, 2010, the cabinet headed by V. Orbán was sworn in. On June 29th, 2010 the parliament elected the former fencing Olympic champion P. Schmitt (FIDESz-MPSZ) as the new head of state. On September 29, 2010, the government introduced a flat tax rate for income tax effective January 1, 2011. On November 16, 2010, the parliament with a two-thirds majority of the governing coalition withdrew practically all powers in financial matters from the constitutional court.

On January 1, 2011, a new media law came into force which, through a central supervisory authority and a media council, enabled greater state control of the media, which domestic and foreign critics viewed as a restriction on the freedom of the press. After disputes with the EU Commission, the Orbán government agreed to make changes to the law, which were passed by parliament in March 2011. Nevertheless, media policy remained controversial. Controversial domestic political debates were also triggered by the government’s draft for a new constitution with a national-religious foundation, which was passed by parliament on April 18, 2011 with the required two-thirds majority. The opposition parties MSzP and LMP raised inter alia the accusation of lack of public participation and stayed away from the vote. The country’s economic situation deteriorated further in 2011. The major rating agencies lowered Hungary’s creditworthiness to junk level. On December 23, 2011, parliament passed a controversial electoral law to reduce the number of members of parliament. In addition, the layout of the electoral districts was changed – in the opinion of the opposition in favor of the government.

On January 2, 2012, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Budapest against the new constitution that came into force on New Year’s Day (state name Hungary). The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Hungary in January 2012 in relation to the independence of the central bank, independence of the judiciary and independence of the data protection authority. In addition, the EU threatened to refuse funding because Hungary was doing too little to counter its high debt. The IMF made measures to stabilize the economy a prerequisite for further credit negotiations. In February 2012, the Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of Hungary’s accession to the EU Fiscal Compact. On April 2, 2012, President P. Schmitt declared after having withdrawn his doctorate due to plagiarism, he resigned. The new President was on May 2nd, 2012 J. Áder (FIDESz-MPSZ). After the controversial media law was eased on May 24, 2012, the Hungarian Parliament voted on May 30, 2012 to amend the Central Bank Law. In July 2012, the Hungarian Constitutional Court overturned the law lowering the retirement age of judges. It had been seen as an attempt by the government to fill vacant positions in the judiciary more quickly with its own supporters. On March 11, 2013, Parliament passed constitutional amendments by a two-thirds majority, including the powers of the Constitutional Court were severely restricted. In addition, there was a ban on election advertising on private radio. Socialists and the LMP boycotted the vote, the result of which aroused sharp criticism, especially at the EU level. The EU has also requested corrections regarding the new power of the highest judicial authority to withdraw proceedings from one court and transfer the case to another. The possibility of levying a special tax on penalties imposed by the EU was also criticized. Finally the Hungarian government gave in and the parliament modified the constitution accordingly on September 16, 2013. The World Jewish Congress (WJC) held on the 5th-7th 5 held its annual conference in Budapest in 2013 to draw attention to the growing anti-Semitism in the country. The JOBBIK party mobilized around 1,000 supporters for a rally directed against the event.

On April 6, 2014, the parliamentary elections took place for the first time on the basis of the new constitution. The government alliance of FIDESz – MPSZ and KDNP won 133 out of 199 seats and thus defended the previous two-thirds majority. A center-left alliance led by the MSzP won 38 seats, the right-wing extremist JOBBIK party won 23 seats. Prime Minister V. Orbán was confirmed in office by Parliament on May 10, 2014. FIDESz – MPSZ and KDNP also won the European elections on May 25, 2014 with 51.5% of the vote and twelve seats. JOBBIK received 14.7% of the vote and three seats in the EU Parliament. In a by-election in February 2015, the government lost a seat in the Budapest parliament and thus lost its two-thirds majority.

In the first half of 2015, the number of refugees who came to Hungary, especially from Syria, across the Serbian border, rose dramatically. The Hungarian government reacted by tightening asylum law and building a border fence with Serbia. Illegal border crossing was made a criminal offense. At the beginning of September 2015, Austria and Germany allowed thousands of refugees stranded in Hungary to enter, given their current plight. On June 7, 2016, Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution, including: in the event of a terrorist attack made the imposition of an emergency and the use of the army permissible. On October 2nd, the Orbán government In 2016 the Hungarian population will vote in a referendum on the question of the mandatory settlement of refugees by the EU without the prior consent of the Hungarian Parliament. Although 98.3% of those who voted spoke out against such a settlement, the referendum participation of around 40.4% was below the required quota of 50%. The referendum thus remained invalid. Nonetheless, the government tightened its asylum and border policy in the following year. On March 13, 2017, Parliament confirmed the President Nonetheless, the government tightened its asylum and border policy in the following year. On March 13, 2017, Parliament confirmed the President Nonetheless, the government tightened its asylum and border policy in the following year. On March 13, 2017, Parliament confirmed the President J. Áder in office. The amendment of the Higher Education Act passed in April 2017, which tightened the legal framework for foreign universities in Hungary, and a law passed in June 2017 with expanded publication and registration requirements for non-governmental organizations that are supported from abroad led to domestic and foreign policy controversies. Observers critical of the government saw it primarily as an attempt to promote liberal civil society tendencies through those of G. Soros to prevent the Central European University and the Open Society Institute established in Budapest. In Hungary, the legal measures triggered protest demonstrations, and the EU Commission initiated infringement proceedings. In the election campaign for the parliamentary elections on April 8, 2018, Prime Minister Orbán emphasized his national-conservative course and his restrictive stance on migration policy. The government alliance he led, consisting of FIDESz – MPSZ and KDNP, won 133 seats in the polls and again secured a two-thirds majority for possible constitutional changes. The MSzP, which had entered into an alliance with the green party Dialog for Hungary (PM) founded in 2013, only got 20 seats (2014: 29), the right-wing extremist JOBBIK party won 26 seats.

Foreign policy: Hungary was admitted to the Council of Europe on November 6, 1990; on December 16, 1991 the government signed an association agreement with the EC. On February 6, 1992, a far-reaching Hungarian-German treaty on friendship and cooperation was concluded in Budapest. Hungary sought to become a member of the Visegrád states through basic treaties regulating the rights of ethnic minorities to improve relations with neighboring countries, which are burdened by minority problems (including conclusion of a “basic treaty” with Ukraine in 1992, on March 19, 1995 with the Slovak Republic, on April 6, 1995 with Croatia, on September 16, 1996 with Romania). A status law (in force from January 1, 2002) to support the Hungarian minorities across the border was not approved by Romania until the end of 2001, but remained controversial there and in the Slovak Republic and in the EU. An amendment to the Citizenship Act passed in 2010 made it easier for Hungarians abroad to acquire Hungarian citizenship. sharply criticized by the Slovak Republic.

On February 8, 1994, Hungary joined NATO’s “Partnership for Peace” program; On December 16, 1997, the accession protocol was signed, according to which Hungary joined NATO in March 1999. After the association agreement with the EU (in force from February 1, 1994) and the application for full membership of the EU on April 1, 1994, official accession negotiations began in March 1998; When it was concluded in December 2002, admission was set as of May 1, 2004 and (after the population approved with a large majority in the EU referendum [April 12, 2003]). On December 17, 2007, Hungary was the first member state to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon signed on December 13, 2007. On January 1, 2011, Hungary took over the EU Council Presidency for the first time. The country’s handling of the refugee and migration crisis, which escalated in 2015, led to considerable foreign policy tensions at the EU level. Together with the Slovak Republic, Hungary brought an action against an EU quota system for refugees at the European Court of Justice in December 2015. The lawsuit was dismissed on September 6, 2017.

Hungary History since 2006