Hungary. At the New Year, a law came into force that
granted temporary work permits and other rights in Hungary
to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries. The law was
controversial both inside and outside Hungary. The Slovak
Government considered that it invaded its sovereignty over
its citizens when they were attracted with student aid to
schools in Hungary. Instead, the Hungarian spiritual leader
in Romania, Bishop László Tökés, noted that the law "has
started the reunification of the Hungarian nation without
changing borders". But in negotiations with Romania, the
Hungarian government had agreed to extend the rights to all
Romanian citizens. That decision received harsh criticism at
home, with many Hungarians fearing that poor Romanians would
turn in for summer jobs.
Countryaah website, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing party Alliance
of Youth Democrats (Fidesz MPP) hoped, however, that the
efforts of Hungarian minorities would win nationalist votes
in the upcoming parliamentary elections. There was concern
that an extremist nationalist party was advancing in public
opinion. The Hungarian Socialist Party and the Peace
Democratic Alliance were critical of the law and argued that
only increased democratization in neighboring countries
could solve minority problems.
The election was held in two rounds in April. Fidesz and
its alliance partners, the right-middle party MDF, with
their 188 seats saw themselves beaten by the Socialists and
the Peace Democrats, who together won 198 seats. After a few
weeks of negotiations, a center-left government was formed
with the socialist Peter Medgyessy as new prime minister.
Despite his party color, Medgyessy explained that he
intended to continue the market economy reforms with, among
other things, privatization of state activities. He also
promised to work for Hungary to get EU membership as soon as
During the summer, however, the new head of government
ended up in windy weather. The press revealed that Medgyessy
had been an officer in the security service for some years
during the communist era. Medgyessy confirmed that he was
active in counter-espionage but suggested that the secret
archives should be opened so that the history of all
politicians could be mapped. The debate about the past got
hot. Medgyessy remained, while the new opposition leader,
Fidesz party leader Zoltan Pokorni, was forced to resign.
The reason was the revelation that his father worked as a
police informer during the communist regime.
Shortly after Pokorni's departure, Parliament decided to
set up a committee to investigate Prime Minister Medgyessy's
past. Another committee was set up to investigate the
background of a few hundred people who have served as
ministers or secretary of state since 1990.
At the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, Hungary,
together with nine other countries, received the clearance
for membership of the Union from 2004.