Viktor Orbán’s ruling right-wing party Fidesz has once again won the Hungarian elections. Two weeks ago, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Budapest to protest against the illiberal and undemocratic practices of the government. MSc student Anna Hátsági is very concerned about the situation in her home country but draws hope from the protests.
‘When I started studying abroad I was planning to return to Hungary. I wanted to live and work in my home country as I love my culture, friends and family. Lately I find it harder to imagine going back since the living conditions are slowly deteriorating. For the last eight years, the Fidesz party has been concentrating their efforts on strengthening their authority. They try to restrict the work of civil society organizations through laws and cuts in funding. They take the financial support from the European Union and distribute it to those in power and their friends instead of spending it on the country’s development. Healthcare and education are poor, due to lack of money. I feel sad about this as I think that being healthy and able to learn is essential for a good life.
The government controls most of the media that spread an image of how well the country is doing and how well the government protects people from imaginary enemies such as migrants or the EU. From what I can see, many people are unhappy with the government but they still tolerate the situation. I find this frustrating. I went to vote in Den Hague. Like many other Hungarians I hoped that something would change this time. Now I am disappointed. Apparently, conditions are not bad enough to motivate a majority of people to fight. There is also not really a good alternative to the ruling party.
I think the protests that started two weeks ago are a reason for hope. Tens of thousands of people from different parts of society joined forces to express their disagreement with the government. My parents protested too. They think it is the best they can do at the moment. Some of my friends are still in Hungary trying to live and work there. I think this is great as we desperately need smart people striving to make a difference.’