“absolutely feel that the Hungarian government is in their pockets”
September 19, 2020 6:35 AM   Subscribe

In the autumn of 2019, the German Embassy in Budapest invited Hungarian journalists working for several independent outlets for an off-the-record discussion to talk honestly about the media situation in Hungary. After several journalists complained about the attitude of German corporations doing business with the government toward Hungarian media freedom, a high-ranking German diplomat reacted by saying that he is fully aware of this and ashamed of himself. “But please understand that this is Germany, which is a democracy where the Federal Foreign Office cannot put pressure on German companies[...]
posted by kmt (5 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kindofa big chunk to drop just like that, with no context... this is an in-depth exploration by Hungarian journalists of how German automotive industry interests wooed by reactionary strongman Orbán, to the tune of millions of € taxbreaks, have come to tip the scales of German political EU influence in their favour, despite his government’s explicit antisemitism and xenophobia.
posted by progosk at 8:48 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


And, if their numbers are to be believed, the MAJORITY of the Hungarian economy is basically German automotive outsourcing. That is a disturbing concentration in one sector, turning the whole country into basically a company town.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:55 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Point taken on no context - I should've indicated that this is a longform investigative piece with months of work put into it. On the other hand, I took a different conclusion about the German industry's relationship with the Hungarian economy. From the article it is clear that the German industrial "dynasties" are quite deliberate on pushing for their interest (so they weren't simply wooed by Orbán) not to mention that this started way before Orbán. My context would be industry and capital's antagonism toward democracy, economic exploitation, the conflict between European center and perifery, precariat and so on. Since these are loaded issues, I chose to present it without context and have the folks here form their own opinion.
posted by kmt at 9:11 AM on September 19 [12 favorites]


Great article!

In 2018, I wrote a couple of articles for Jacobin about Orbán's strategy: What Orbán Knows and His Enemies Don’t and Fidesz’s Two-Thirds.

From the second one: "Indeed, if the Orbán regime works, it is partly thanks to the complacency of Europe, especially the core countries that have invested much in Hungary and want to see their investment remain safe. What many core European countries desire in places like Hungary is “stabilocracies”: “weak democracies with autocratically minded leaders, who govern through informal, patronage networks and claim to provide pro-Western stability in the region.” These are, after all, the same people who turned the Greek crash into a humanitarian crisis and abetted the rise of the fascist Golden Dawn party. They could hardly be expected to care about the state of Hungarian democracy."
posted by - at 4:48 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


More directly linked to Orban's "Slave Law" ..in which "Orbán’s government adopted a new law that allows corporations to demand four hundred hours of overtime per year (up from 250), while delaying payments to workers for up to three years. The law, popularly dubbed as the “slave law,” was adopted without prior consultation with the trade unions" The law brought widespread demonstrations and strikes, but nonetheless President Ader signed the bill into law.

Foreign criticism of Orban's style of governing doesn't go down well within Hungary, where press freedom has increasingly become limited to fewer and fewer (mostly online) outlets. “When they see German criticism, the Hungarian government thinks: what do they want? If we gave a few billions for the Mercedes factory, why are they complaining about ‘dictatorship’? What do they want to achieve? After all, they are rational people, they must definitely have a purpose!”

Local media in Hungary report that Orban pushed through the law in a bid to lure German auto-maker BMW to invest a billion euros in a new plant in Debrecen, Hungary's second city.
posted by zaelic at 6:04 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


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