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Another Sign of the Times: Hungarian Government Implements Forced Labor Program

Jobbik Party Members on Parade

COMMENT: The right wing government of Hungary continues to manifest programs and ideological pronouncements disturbingly reminiscent of that country’s past–a fascist nation allied with the Axis in World War II.

Under the stewardship of the Arrow Cross organization, Hungary fought alongside Nazi Germany and was an enthusiastic participant in Hitler’s social agenda as well.

Now that nation has implemented a forced labor program for its large, growing number of unemployed workers.

Will the U.S. undergo something similar in the not too distant future? If the GOP gets back into power, that is a possibility that should not be too readily dismissed.

After all, the Republicans have already demonstrated their implacable hostility toward those collecting unemployment benefits and social security. Constructing a forced labor program wouldn’t be all that much of a reach for the GOP.

In that context, one should not forget that the GOP’s Ethnic outreach organization was crafted under the stewardship of Laszlo Pasztor, a veteran of the Arrow Cross. That organization has been well represented within the Republican ethnic outreach milieu.

“Hungary to Introduce Forced Labor, Labor Camps”; Little Green Footballs; 8/3/2011.

EXCERPT: The labor plan will result in 225 million euros savings annually for the government and in turn facilitate a massive reduction in national wage levels. The payment paid for those undertaking the forced labor is based on the social assistance rate of 28,500 forints (110 euros) per month, i.e., a sum which is less than half the monthly minimum wage of 78,000 forints.

In recent years thousands of public employees have been laid off, leading to staff shortages in some areas. The labor plan will free up workers to be exploited in forced labor schemes for major state works programs related to infrastructure and agriculture. Hungarian media have cited the construction of soccer stadiums, road works, maintenance of drainage systems and the construction of dams as examples of the new “community service”.

400,000 Hungarians are immediately eligible to carry out such labor. In a recent interview Orban made clear that, in his view, such forced labor was urgently required. In future dams will be constructed “not with the technology of the 21st century (…), but by hand.”

The plan envisages that the unemployed can be used either for state projects, or “loaned out” to private companies. . . .


13 comments for “Another Sign of the Times: Hungarian Government Implements Forced Labor Program”

  1. I have a feeling similar policies will be used for the euro bailout nations, where Germany will do a Barter style deal for workers/labourers, as well as foodstuffs, as part payment for debts etc.


    Posted by GermanyWatch | August 31, 2011, 8:54 am
  2. You have to wonder what other innovative policy solutions will be enabled in Hungary now that he far-right has unilaterally overhauled their constitution:

    December 19, 2011, 10:31 am
    Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution

    Last week I devoted a column to the unsettling political developments in Hungary. To expand on all this, I’ve asked my Princeton colleague Kim Lane Scheppele, who has been working extensively on the situation, to contribute a post. It’s below the fold.

    Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution
    Kim Lane Scheppele

    Last week, Paul Krugman’s column “Depression and Democracy” called attention to Hungary’s “authoritarian slide.” Since I was one of the sources for Paul’s column, I’d like to explain why I have been alarmed at the state of both constitutionalism and democracy in Hungary.

    In a free and fair election last spring in Hungary, the center-right political party, Fidesz, got 53% of the vote. This translated into 68% of the seats in the parliament under Hungary’s current disproportionate election law. With this supermajority, Fidesz won the power to change the constitution. They have used this power in the most extreme way at every turn, amending the constitution ten times in their first year in office and then enacting a wholly new constitution that will take effect on January 1, 2012.

    ¶This constitutional activity has transformed the legal landscape to remove checks on the power of the government and put virtually all power into the hands of the current governing party for the foreseeable future.

    ¶The new constitution has attracted a great deal of criticism from the Venice Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the United States. But the Fidesz government has paid no attention.

    ¶Under the new constitutional order, the judiciary has taken the largest hit. The Constitutional Court, which once had the responsibility to review nearly all laws for constitutionality, has been killed off in three ways. First, the government expanded the number of judges on the bench and filled the new positions with their own political allies (think: Roosevelt’s court-packing plan). Then, the government restricted the jurisdiction of the court so that it can no longer review any law that has an impact on the budget, like laws pertaining to taxes and austerity programs, unless the law infringes particular listed rights. Finally, the government changed the rules of access to the court so that it will no longer be easily able to review laws in the abstract for their compliance with the constitution. Moreover, individuals can no longer challenge the constitutionality of laws without first going through a lengthy process in the ordinary courts. The old Constitutional Court, which has served as the major check on governmental power in a unicameral parliamentary system, is now functionally dead.

    The new constitution makes huge swaths of public policy changeable only by a two-thirds vote of any subsequent parliament. From here on, all tax and fiscal policy must be decided by a two-thirds supermajority. Even the precise boundaries of electoral districts cannot be changed by simple majority vote, but only by a two-third supermajority. If a new government gets a mere majority, policies instituted during the Fidesz government cannot be changed.

    ¶That’s not all. The long arm of the current Fidesz government can grab and shake any foreseeable future government through the officials they are now putting into place. The new constitutional order extends the terms of office for the public prosecutor (9 years), the head of the state audit office (12 years), the head of the national judicial office (9 years), the head of the media board (9 years), the head of the budget council (6 years) and more. Each of these positions has been filled with Fidesz party loyalists who will be able to conduct public investigations, intimidate the media, press criminal charges and continue to pack the courts long after the government’s current term is over. Moreover, unless there is a two-thirds vote to replace these new office holders, they can stay in office until such a two-thirds vote can be achieved, which could extend these long terms of office even further.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 20, 2011, 8:43 am
  3. A lesson from “Fascist takeovers 101”: When you want to “refurbish” a society, break it first. Then offer solutions that involve the unilateral acquisition of power. Or ride in on vague campaigns for reform and just take the unilateral power when you get a chance. Either way, Mission Accomplished:

    Foes of Hungary’s Government Fear ‘Demolition of Democracy’
    Published: December 21, 2011

    BUDAPEST — In less than two years as a member of the Hungarian Parliament, Timea Szabo says she has looked on helplessly as the ruling Fidesz Party has used its two-thirds majority to tighten its grip on the news media and the courts, redraw parliamentary districts in its favor and pack the constitutional court with supporters. On Jan. 1, a new “majoritarian” Constitution written and ratified by Fidesz takes hold.

    “They are preparing the funeral for the Hungarian Republic,” Ms. Szabo said. Opposition groups, including Ms. Szabo’s small, green Politics Can Be Different Party, known by its Hungarian abbreviation L.M.P., have called for a demonstration on Friday against the “demolition of democracy” by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

    Democracy here is dying not with a single giant blow but with many small cuts, critics say, through the legal processes of Parliament that add up to a slow-motion coup. And in its drift toward authoritarian government, aided by popular disaffection with political gridlock and a public focused mainly on economic hardship, Hungary stands as a potentially troubling bellwether for other, struggling Eastern European countries with weak traditions of democratic government.

    Mr. Orban and his supporters counter that they are only following through on their promises in last year’s election campaign to sweep away the old order, which they say was hamstrung by compromises to ensure a smooth transition from communism but left behind a legacy of gridlock. Government supporters note the left-wing opposition’s contradictory claims, on the one hand saying that Fidesz is establishing unassailable authoritarian control while warning that the real danger is the far-right party Jobbik taking control of a system of government shorn of checks and balances.

    The constitutional court this week struck down portions of the controversial media law, as well as changes to the criminal code and a law governing churches, but the high court’s own purview will be limited by the new Constitution, one of several steps reining in the power and independence of the judiciary.

    “It’s a little bit curious for an external observer because it seems to be fast, it seems to be too much at once, but that’s actually what we have promised,” Mr. Kovacs said. “We are refurbishing; we are renewing the country.

    The level of antagonism in Hungarian politics rose significantly starting in September 2006, when radio stations played a leaked recording of Ferenc Gyurcsany, the Socialist prime minister, who admitted that he had lied to the public about the dire state of the country’s economy before elections.

    Before austerity became the watchword for countries like Greece, Ireland and Spain, the Hungarian government was cutting government jobs, raising taxes and imposing new fees to try to control its growing budget deficits as early as 2007. Steel barriers surrounded the Parliament building to protect it from tens of thousands of demonstrators.

    Dissatisfaction over cutbacks and Mr. Gyurcsany’s speech helped fuel the rise of the nationalist, anti-Semitic Jobbik Party. Once a fringe group with a paramilitary wing, an energized Jobbik won nearly 17 percent of the vote in 2010.

    But the main beneficiary of voter outrage toward the Socialists was Fidesz, which gained a critical two-thirds majority in Parliament — enough to pass constitutional amendments and even an entire new Constitution without votes from opposition parties.

    Also, note that the claims by Fidesz that they are merely implementing the sweeping changes that they campaigned on appear to be BS.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2011, 11:32 am
  4. […] Hungarian government implements forced labour program […]

    Posted by The rise of fascism in Hungary: A few articles and analyses. La montée du fascisme en Hongrie: Quelques articles et analyses. | Lys-d'Or | January 2, 2012, 3:12 pm
  5. The “Parlia-military”: Because one new Hungarian secret police force with broad powers and and no unaccountability just wasn’t enough.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 19, 2012, 8:51 pm
  6. @Pterrafractyl: I am quite frankly beginning to wonder if we may someday see a new era of European immigration to the U.S.? As bad as things may have been here, we, at least, have a good shot of pulling ourselves back up. Much of Europe, it seems, doesn’t.

    Posted by Steven L. | April 20, 2012, 9:47 am
  7. @Steven: It’s already under way. There have been a lot of French that either immigrated or came to Quebec for work, studies, etc, in the last years. I think the disintegration of Europe has a lot to do with it, difficulties to find work, and the slowly conversion of european society to Sharia Law through hypocritical means like halal food, islamic veil for women, special rooms for prayers in buildings, etc. Many Europeans feel like that they have been betrayed by their leaders, and rightly so. In the U.S., you may encounter a similar wave of immigration from the U.K. in the coming years if the situation continues to deteriorate.

    Posted by Claude | April 20, 2012, 10:42 am
  8. @Steven and Claude: It’s a testament to how radically the world has regressed in the last decade that we’re now looking at some sort of repeat of the 1930’s…except instead of a failed Weimar Republic imploding economically from hyperinflation there’s an entire eurozone superstate that seems to be intent on turning the whole continent into some sort of defunct deflationary Weimar superstate. Let’s just hope the US doesn’t end up turning away waves of immigrants fleeing for the lives. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2012, 1:56 pm
  9. @Claude: I hate to disagree with you, man, but I am highly skeptical of the supposed ‘Sharia law’ conspiracy theories, given that nearly everybody that’s been pushing them in the MSM have been right-wing bullshit machines, not just in your country(Canada) or mine(U.S.), but in Europe as well.
    With that said, though, it is certainly true, sadly, that radical Islamist extremists won’t be going away anytime soon in any of these places.

    And, having looked into Gaffney, I have some bad news for you; he may have come out against Grover Norquist, but unfortunately, he isn’t exactly one of the good guys, either. He too, is connected to PNAC, and has been involved in the ‘Obama is a secret Muslim illegal alien’ bullshittery.

    John Loftus, at least, seems to be a genuinely decent guy. Gaffney? Not so much.

    Posted by Steven L. | April 20, 2012, 4:42 pm
  10. @Steven: Concerning Sharia Law, I am afraid that it is not a matter of opinion but rather of facts. It has nothing to do with conspiracy theory. All reports coming from Europe are scary. Muslims praying in the streets, imposing halal food in school cafeterias, imposing islamic veil in certain neighbourhoods. Did you know that there are whole neighbourhoods in France where the police don’t go, either because they are scared or because they don’t have the orders to arrest people? These areas are controlled by criminal gangs, and the mixture of that with radical or even violent Islam is toxic. Imagine complete sectors of New York or Los Angeles where State Police wouldn’t go… That’s the situation in France.

    And the other thing is that only by reproduction, Muslims will become the majority somewhere between 2030 and 2050. Then, according to the specifications of Sharia Law, when they become the majority, Sharia Law will become automatically the Law of the Land, replacing any Constitution, Bill or Rights, criminal code, etc. Europeans along other westerners don’t reproduce enough to maintain their populations. And so they will be replaced by another group with different values. But corporations will love them for their “submission”. That’s the meaning of the word “Islam”.

    And for Gaffney, I take note of your comment but I need more information to come to this conclusion at this time.

    Posted by Claude | April 20, 2012, 11:10 pm
  11. “Hungary Rehabilitates Far-Right Figures
    By Keno Verseck in Budapest”

    06/06/2012 06.06.2012 Spiegel Online


    Posted by GK | June 14, 2012, 5:19 am
  12. Awwwww, poor dear:

    Hungarian Far-Right Leader Discovers His Jewish Roots
    As a politician known for his anti-Semitic attitude, Csanad Szegedi was caught by surprise when he discovered his own Jewish roots.

    By Associated Press

    (BUDAPEST, Hungary) — As a rising star in Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments on Jews: He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

    Then came a revelation that knocked him off his perch as ultra-nationalist standard-bearer: Szegedi himself is a Jew.

    Following weeks of Internet rumors, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jews — making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practice the faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labor camps.

    Since then, the 30-year-old has become a pariah in Jobbik and his political career is on the brink of collapse. He declined to be interviewed for this story.

    At the root of the drama is an audio tape of a 2010 meeting between Szegedi and a convicted felon. Szegedi acknowledges that the meeting took place but contends the tape was altered in unspecified ways; Jobbik considers it real.

    In the recording, the felon is heard confronting Szegedi with evidence of his Jewish roots. Szegedi sounds surprised, then offers money and favors in exchange for keeping quiet.

    Under pressure, Szegedi resigned last month from all party positions and gave up his Jobbik membership. That wasn’t good enough for the party: Last week it asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well. Jobbik says its issue is the suspected bribery, not his Jewish roots.

    Szegedi came to prominence in 2007 as a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and striped flags recalled the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews. In all, 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most of them after being sent in trains to death camps like Auschwitz. The Hungarian Guard was banned by the courts in 2009.

    By then, Szegedi had already joined the Jobbik Party, which was launched in 2003 to become the country’s biggest far-right political force. He soon became one of its most vocal and visible members, and a pillar of the party leadership. Since 2009, he has served in the European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party’s three EU lawmakers, a position he says he wants to keep.

    Szegedi’s experience is not unique: The Holocaust was a taboo subject during Hungary’s decades of communist rule that ended in 1990, and many survivors chose to keep their ordeals to themselves. Russian far-right firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky was anti-Semitic until he acknowledged in 2001 that his father was Jewish.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2012, 12:28 pm
  13. These things seem to occur on a regular basis.



    Jobbik party’s commemoration of Hungarian Nazi collaborator sparks protest
    Posted on November 4, 2013 by JNS.org.

    (JNS.org) Nearly 1,000 protestors took to the streets in Budapest to decry the far-right Jobbik party’s unveiling of a statue of Hungarian wartime leader and Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy, Reuters reported.

    The third-largest party in Hungary, Jobbik’s leaders have stoked extremism anti-Semitism in Hungary, often denigrating Jews and Israel in speeches.

    “It is a historical travesty to publicly honor a man who introduced anti-Jewish laws in 1938, who sided with Adolf Hitler before and during World War II and who did nothing to prevent the murder of Hungarian Jewry,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement.

    Horthy, who ruled Hungary from 1920-1944, helped the Nazis to deport more than 437,000 Jews to death camps in less than two months in 1944, according to the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Centre.

    Posted by Vanfield | November 5, 2013, 10:25 am

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