Presenting in one concise package the week’s most important and fascinating national stories, whether they be economic, political, cultural, sporting or among the hundreds of other happenings that go on daily.
Cities throughout Hungary observed World Autism Awareness Day with various instalments and light shows in blue, the colour of the initiative. The day has been observed each April 2 since 2008. It was supported unanimously by all member states at the United Nations General Assembly after a proposal by Qatar. Pictured are Széchenyi Square in Győr and Salgó castle near Salgótarján.
Antall bust unveiled in Brussels
A bust of József Antall (1932-1993), the first prime minister after Hungary’s transition to democracy, was unveiled in the European Parliament’s wing named after him in Brussels. The bust was inaugurated by Klára Antall, his widow, and deputy Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament Gergely Gulyás and deputy state secretary of human resources Gergely Prőhle. Gulyás said Antall had recognised early on that Hungary should become part of the European community and NATO. He had sought to foster a market economy based on the classical ideals of Christian democracy.
Déli pályaudvar, or Southern Railway Station, is open again after being shut down when a tunnel wall collapsed in February. At first it was said the repairs would take about three weeks. The delay sparked speculation that it might remain closed for ever because the closure proved that the significantly smaller, but at least partially renovated, Kelenföldi station in south Buda had grown up to the task of serving the greater number of travellers.
Anti-Semitism in slight decline
The prevalence of anti-Semitism in Hungary declined somewhat between 2013 and 2014, according to research outfit Medián. Endre Hann, Median’s director, said that in 2014, overall 23% of respondents declared an emotional antipathy towards Jews, slightly fewer than the previous year, though the easing is within the margin of error. Hann noted that 10% of respondents to the same question declared the same negative attitudes in 2009, and this had risen to 28% by 2010, in parallel with the increasing popularity of radical nationalist party Jobbik. The proportion of anti-Semites in Hungarian society runs in parallel with the prevalence of attitudes such as “there is a secret Jewish conspiracy” or “the influence of Jews in today’s Hungary is too great”, he said. The survey considered three groups: those with a strongly felt affinity with such statements, those who agree with many of them and those who absolutely reject them. In 2013, fully 38% belonged to the category of moderate-to-strong anti-Semites and this dropped to 32% last year. Hann said the numbers were not especially alarming in European comparison. Negative attitudes towards Jews had been more widespread in the capital last year, and this had not been apparent in 2013. According to Medián, there was no significant connection between anti-Semitism and education attainment, social status or income level. But a correlation was seen in terms of political sympathy: two-thirds of Jobbik supporters were anti-Semitic, mostly strongly so. People on the right wing were slightly more susceptible to feeling a dislike for Jews. Among Socialist supporters, 16% felt strongly against Jews. Hann said anti-Semitism is not a “central issue” for a major part of Hungarian society.
Construction has begun on what is planned to be one of the biggest sailing harbours on Lake Balaton. The HUF 2 billion project in the southwestern area at Balatonfenyves will have 300-350 docking stations for sailboats, a 1,000-square-metre indoor playground and a 20-room hotel and additional lodging facilities, which will float on the water. Non-governmental organisations are collecting signatures to protest the 450-metre breakwater.
2014 hottest since 1901
Last year was the hottest on average in Hungary since 1901, with a mean temperature of almost 12 C, the national meteorological office has said. Also, in 2014 more weather alerts than ever were issued due to extreme events such as sudden downpours. Temperature extremes last year were not especially marked, the office noted, and mild weather in normally cold seasons meant that the average temperature reached 11.95 C, a rise of 0.2 C compared with the previous post-1901 record in 2007. The World Meteorological Organisation says 2014 was the hottest year globally since international record-keeping began in 1850.
More beer down the hatch
Hungarian brewers’ domestic sales rose 2% to 5.8 million hectolitres last year, professional association MSSz says. Its head, Attila Schillinger, said this followed a 4.5% fall in 2013, when excise taxes went up. Sales of premium beer climbed almost 23% and of the cheapest beer almost 6%, while mid-range product dipped 4%. The data is based on sales of Hungary’s top four brewers: Borsodi, Dreher, Heineken and Pécsi. Including exports, their combined output reached 6.2 million hectolitres in 2014.
Biometric ID card planned
The government plans to replace citizens’ ID cards in January with a one-stop biometric card holding fingerprint data suitable for providing an electronic signature, Napi Gazdaság has reported. A “social consultation” would precede the drafting of the law. The government believes a single card would be convenient for covering a range of official administration such as tax and social insurance, the paper said. The card would incorporate a health insurance number and would gain access to public transport.
The country’s richest businessman, Sándor Csányi, has been unanimously re-elected president of the Hungarian Football Association for another five years. Before the vote Csányi said that when he took over in 2010 the association was bleeding red ink but he had stabilised it and last year’s profit was HUF 388 million-plus. Since 2010 the number of players had increased from 125,000 to 215,000, the teams from 7,000 to 11,000, three new stadiums were built and the reconstruction of the National Stadium was under way.