Thursday, 6 October 2016

Hungary, migration history, referendum results and low voter turn out

Hungary in the world. Hungary or Magyaroraszag is part of the larger Balkan region. It borders Romania and Ukraine to it's East. Serbia and Croatia to it's South and Slovenia, Austria and Slovakia to it's North and West. For most of the 20th century, Hungary bordered Yugoslavia and until 1993, Czechoslovakia.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary is a perfect example of Hungary's unique geography. Once two cities Buda and Pest separated by the Danube River, Budapest today is a unified city. As an odd coincidence, the Danube River literally splits Hungary into West and East halves as it travels from North to South into Serbia. Another lesser known river, the Tiszca splits Hungary's Eastern half into a third segment.

1956 Hungarian Revolution

A crossroads for both East and West, Hungary sits nearly in the centre of the Balkans. It is the ancestral homeland of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and American billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Attila the Hun was born and died in Hungary and is considered the founder of the modern country.

Most people will remember Hungary in history class for being part of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire that once ruled the Balkans and wider parts of Europe. The empire died with the end of World War I in 1918. Leaving in it's death two new countries as part of the Post World War I environment, Hungary and Austria. As karma would have it, Hungary soon saw the tables turned between the inter war years and World War II. From 1920-1946, it was it's own independent kingdom.Yet the Soviet Union first captured and later annexed Hungary for much of the 20th century with the help of the Hungarian Communists. In another historic lesson unlearned in the 1920, it was Hungarian refugees who were running across the border into Austria, Serbia and Germany. These refugees were escaping ongoing protests, a possible war and rising inflation set in motion with the Treaty of Trianon. All of which were blamed on the communist government by extension the larger Soviet government in Moscow. In history class, many students probably heard of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the hated Soviet rule and Hungarian Communist Party. It sent more Hungarians towards Western Europe. The revolution's muted success and the Hungarian hatred for communism was so fierce that violence erupted at the 1956 Olympics during a famous water polo match against Hungary and Soviet Union. It was perhaps one of the earliest televised Olympics instances of politics mixing sports. But sport is political as history has shown. There's no question the Hungarian Revolution would go onto inspire the 1968 Prague Spring from where the Arab Spring and all the colour coded revolutions get their names. Younger Hungarians are emigrating out of the country for better economic opportunities to Western Europe. Hungary itself has a long history with migration as ancestors of the Hungarians originally migrated to modern Hungary from the Ural Mountains. The Hungarians today do not seem to reflect much on their past as forced migrants when dealing with today's Syrian and Afghan refugees and migrants.

Hungarian referendum October 2016

Voting on Fear

Around 6,000 migrants have remained in Serbia after Hungary sealed up it's border early this year in March. Some migrants and refugees were separated from their families who were allowed to cross into the EU. They are on their way to the Serbian-Hungarian border to push for Hungary to reopen the border. After 1 million migrants and refugees marched in protest with their feet from Hungarian-Serbian border to Budapest and into Austria and Germany. European Union is freaked out about a possible repeat occurring. Yesterday, Hungary's long awaited no vote to the EU Migration quota referendum was accepted by 98% of the Hungarian people. The referendum was originally called by Viktor Orban, Hungary's Prime Minister who has become the unofficial, no BS anti-migration champion of the far right, racist nationalist Hungarian groups ie Jobbik. The less severe but far right Fidesz, . Arrow Cross Party (that has a connection to ) and other Pan-European groups such as PEGIDA, British National Party, English Defence League, Front National, Golden Dawn. Hungary has been adamant about letting new migrants and refugees into the country again after last years wave of migrants. Historically, Hungary hasn't been able to readily accept or absorbed migrants. Oddly enough, within Hungary some 14% of the Hungarian population is labelled as Other. The Far Right's popularity and Hungarian media's play on negative stereotypes of migrants and refugees as terrorist sleepers, "invaders" or "culturally backward" compared to Europe have further pushed ordinary Hungarians away from the idea of empathizing with migrants who are women and children. However, the referendum has ended up being invalided due to low voter turn out. The required voter turn out for the referendum to past is 50%. The voters were less than it. Nevertheless, the Hungarian government has declared the referendum a victory for the country. No doubt Victor Orban will be damned if he still has to follow Brussel's request to accept a migrant quota or taken in desperate refugees and migrants.

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary has won the hearts and minds of Europe's ultra nationalists and far right organizations for his anti-migration speeches and policies. He is also a self proclaimed defender of a Christian Europe and has reiterated that Europe is for Europeans.

PS: Last time Hungary was at the centre of a massive migration flow into Western Europe it was caused by the infamous Attila the Hun, the Hungarian born barbarian leader indirectly responsible for the Germanic invasions into Western Europe and eventual fall of Rome in the 5th Century.

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