Frustrated Hungary Flirts with Far-Right Politics
Land, Thomas, Contemporary Review
PRIME Minister Victor Orban's conservative coalition administration is introducing a big, long-term infrastructure building programme intended to accelerate the growth of the Hungarian economy. Similar development master-plans may well be launched by some of Hungary's wealthier neighbours in central and eastern Europe in response to the economic upturn helped by a recovery of key western export markets.
This may be Orban's last big attempt to win re-election for a second term in office through achieving an early Hungarian accession to the European Union (EU). An alternative may be some form of a populist coalition administration including the far-Right Smallholders Party. The proposition has alarm bells ringing in Brussels as well as in Budapest.
Housing and motorway building will consume the lion's share of Orban's new, 434 billion forint (1bn pounds) investment package over the next two years, with more to come later. This is a huge sum for this poor, formerly communist country of just ten million people which has nevertheless emerged as an important regional trendsetter.
Other main items on the modernization agenda are industrial innovation, small business as well as regional development, sub-contracting and tourism. The final version of the scheme should be published shortly. It is called the Szechenyi Plan after a 19th century Hungarian aristocrat responsible for a very ambitious modernization programme along the English model of that time. His name still carries strong patriotic appeal for all segments of society.
Orban's political opponents dismiss the plan as a piece of crude electioneering. Orban hopes that it may be the last big push needed to secure the country's entry into the EU. And in any case, he adds, quoting a long list of favourable, authoritative forecasts and analyses, now that the Hungarian economy has turned the corner, the time …
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Publication information: Article title: Frustrated Hungary Flirts with Far-Right Politics. Contributors: Land, Thomas - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 278. Issue: 1620 Publication date: January 2001. Page number: 1. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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