Billboards warning migrants to obey Hungarian laws, and discouraging them from accepting jobs ‘for Hungarians’ have been popping up across the country, as part of a new government initiative. A blaring threat to dignity, these billboards state that people from other countries should be careful not to “steal” jobs from natives. Paradoxically, this policy is often criticized by the public and yet it seems the current government is also widely endorsed. The endorsement of a conservative government came as a result of the challenging economic situation Hungary, like many other countries, has experienced over the past four years. However the public don’t support this particular government initiative and it must have come as a surprise to many that the government they trusted to rebuild the country’s economy has strayed so far from its initial center-right stance. In response to this campaign, the Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party has decided to run a mock campaign, this time apologising to migrants on behalf of the Prime Minister.
There are two main reasons for this growing inherent tension in Hungary. Firstly, it can be argued that the Hungarian people feel somewhat lonely in the area. And by this I don't mean in terms of psychology or socializing but they appear to feel isolated because there isn’t a country nearby with a similar language and ethnicity. Magyar is a completely different language and Hungarian culture, with its rare identity, would have difficulty spreading across Europe.
Secondly, feelings of xenophobia have been increasing rapidly, becoming more widespread across the country because of growing numbers of immigrants and refugees. Hungary may not border Middle Eastern countries or the Mediterranean, but it has been shown that it is a crossroad for immigrants heading to Germany, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands or other neighboring countries. Therefore, the government seems to rely on the insecurity of its citizens, and the ongoing crisis caused by ISIS and other terrorist or para military groups, triggers further insecurity in Europe.
“In many countries when there is xenophobia, it’s raised by marginal parties, it’s raised by right wing parties, it’s raised by some fringe groups. What is unusual in Hungary is to see the government trying to whip up xenophobia. But what is really encouraging is to see the public reacting against it and wanting to support refugees,” said the UNHCR’s Central Europe representative Kitty McKinsey. Critics say most migrants cause no problems, and that this is an example of classic deflection from the government’s own shortcomings and economic failures; after all, average monthly salaries here are just a few hundred euros. “We have experienced over 50,000 people entering the Hungarian, therefore the European, borders illegally. We understand the UN’s approach to migration and it is possible to present a couple of successful stories. In these numbers, among these circumstances, it is a completely different story,” said government spokesman Zoltán Kovács. Is Hungary a unique situation or only the beginning of a rise in far right ideology across Europe?