New Knowledge about Hungary

TitleNew Knowledge about Hungary
Publication TypePolicy Brief
AuthorsVidra, Zsuzsanna, Jon Fox, and Aniko Horvath
Full Text

Questions about tolerance in Hungary need to be understood in the larger context of Hungarian nationalism. The 'Nation' has figured prominently in Hungarian political and social life over the last century and a half; it has even overshadowed to a certain extent traditional left-right political cleavages in various east European contexts. In recent years, nationalism has manifested itself in negative attitudes towards foreigners (xenophobia) and the increasing prejudice, rejection, and negative attitudes towards internal minorities (mainly the Roma). This is accompanied by claims of cultural supremacy and the rejection of 'difference'.

The most significant tolerance challenges in Hungary today are related to the situation of the Roma. Their 'otherness' has been constructed differently from other groups for a variety of complex historical and social reasons. At present, Roma are the target of intense xenophobia, prejudice, and racism in Hungary. This is due in part to the rise of the extreme right who have turned new (and negative) attention on the Roma, further legitimating the radicalization of more mainstream discourses in the process. But the extreme right is both cause and consequence of this: anti-Roma prejudices can and also should be viewed more generally as a 'cultural code' shared to varying degrees and with different interpretation in mainstream political discourse and indeed at a societal level more generally as well. In different ways, a wide range of political processes contribute to the ethnicisation of Hungary’s social, political, and economic problems by making a scapegoat of the Roma.

Center for Policy Studies (CPS)
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