Is Hungary finished?

Reeling from the crisis and beset by corruption, Hungary is spectacularly failing its young, who are emigrating in droves, writes columnist Matild Torkos in Magyar Nemzet. With the EU also ignoring their plight, all they can do is leave

Published on 28 September 2010 at 14:41
All doomed: Students at Piliscsaba university

Most young Hungarians do not feel that they have a future in their own country. That is the conclusion of a recent survey conducted by researchers from the Hungarian Academy who found that many are planning on emigrating as soon as they graduate.

Only 39% of secondary school pupils believe that love for one’s homeland necessarily implies a desire to live there. A third of them are uncertain about moving away, but another third have already decided that they will leave. Attitudes among university students are just slightly better. Only 19 % are planning to leave, so we can still celebrate the fact that 61% of young people in our universities believe their future is in Hungary.

The other day in parliament, a Christian Democrat MP made a speech deploring the decline of the Hungarian population, which has sunk below ten million. We need to encourage more young people to have children, he insisted. But the trouble is that most of the children who are born and brought up here cannot find a place in our society when they graduate.

My eldest son says his only reason for staying is our large and affectionate family. He believes that children from broken homes are more likely than their peers to make their lives abroad. He is also convinced the situation of many Hungarian graduates who are unable to find a job that allows them to start a family would be unthinkable in Western Europe.

The President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, József Pálinkás, said researchers are also leaving to seek work abroad. And they are not alone: thousands of poorly paid doctors, nurses, carpenters, bricklayers, lathe operators and mechanics have now accepted the fact that making Hungary competitive no longer works for them.

One million could quit the country

Prime minister Viktor Orban’s new government has promised one million jobs. But will that be enough to prevent one million unemployed from leaving? Thousands of families have been evicted from their homes because when the parents lost their jobs, they were unable to make the payments on their foreign currency mortgages. According to finance minister György Matolcsy, a further 300,000 families now run the risk of banks foreclosing on their homes. If the exchange rate continues on its current course they will be out on the street. The question is: who will be able to dissuade them from seeking a better life for themselves and their children in a country with proper legal safeguards?

The long and the short of it is that a country which sits idly by while young people emigrate because they believe that they have no hope of earning a living in the land of their forefathers, is a country with nothing left to offer.

EU is ignoring our suffering

With its limited focus on the curvature of cucumbers and the banning of scientific experiments on primates, the worthless EU has no time for the vast number of Hungarians who are forced to work like slaves for salaries that do not even cover their most basic needs. Apparently, keeping down interest rates are the only priority.

The political elite in Brussels and Budapest can take pride in the fact that after 20 years marked by privatisation, liberalisation, an end to prohibitive customs charges, the ongoing delay on the devaluation of the euro, corruption on every level, cronyism in public tenders and taxes that are an incitement to fiscal fraud, we are now in a position to export industrial and social strife instead of the Hungarian products we were supposed to make.

The new government, which is trying to break free from the terrible legacy left by the socialists has promised that staying in Hungary and returning to Hungary will soon be worthwhile. The Gyurcsány era where the authorities were only too eager to say “You are free to leave!” is now at an end. Our only hope is that this change has not come too late.


Emigrants never come home

"The brain drain is permanent,"headlines Jyllands-Posten. According to official Danish statistics, every year 20,000 to 22,000 graduates are leaving the country. In the 1960s, 66% of these qualified migrants returned home after two years abroad. Today, only 49% are returning after two, six or ten years spent in other countries. For Gunnar Viby Mogensen, who is writing a book on the country’s welfare state, "we are witnessing an increase in the emigration of people who could make a significant contribution to the funding and prosperity of Danish society. "

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