Letter from . . . February 2017
Political polarization & private pleasures
On Hungary’s struggle with national identity.
I have been visiting Hungary (where I was born and grew up) almost every year since 1989 (when the communist system dissolved) as well as during the 1970s and ’80s under the Kadar regime. I wrote of one such visit in these pages ten years ago (December 2006). Ten years ago the right-of-center party (Fidesz) was in the opposition, but since 2010 it has been in power, as a result of receiving 54 percent of the popular vote. At the same time, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP) shrank dramatically, getting 28 percent of the votes in the same election. During the same period the liberal party (SzDSz) virtually disappeared, getting less than 3 percent of the popular vote. Far more ominous has been the rise of “Jobbik,” which received 20 percent of...
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