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


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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