Hungary: propaganda videos to bring back young 'dissidents'

Article published on Dec. 22, 2011
Article published on Dec. 22, 2011
Goulash, cottage chocolate cheese, soulmates and coining a vintage term to woo back a generation of expats. Hungary's propaganda machine, run by its conservative ruling party fidesz and various youth affiliates, is not letting up with its laws and lists, writes Béla Soltész

Discontent is on the rise, especially among young, highly educated Hungarians. That this group has always been willing to study and work abroad is no news. However, recently more and more young Hungarians are planning their future outside the country – for the rest of their lives. In a popular youtube video advertising a large anti-government demonstration on 23 October, a young Hungarian girl sings a song titled I Don’t Like The System, featuring the lyric: 'I don’t like that my friends and relatives are about to leave this country'.

In the Hungarian original a strange word is used to express 'to leave this country'. Disszidálni means 'to become a dissident' – in the Hungarian context it means leaving the country due to political reasons. The word was no longer used after the collape of communism in the early nineties. Until this year.

The ruling conservative party fidesz has used its two-thirds majority in parliament to recreate the country’s democratic institutions in its likeness. One pro-fidesz youth organisation IKSZ made the first attempt to bring back the 'dissidents' with their project ('Come'). Its ten-point list arguing for a move back to Hungary includes goulash and cottage cheese chocolate (as two separate items), attractive boys and girls and the incomparable feeling of being at home, where one was born and raised. A new video, by another pro-fidesz youth group uj generacio, tells the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love and renounce their plan to emigrate as they realise that every important thing in their lives can be found in Hungary.

Besides kitschy propaganda, there are more severe government attempts to keep young Hungarians at home. A new higher education law would force graduates to pay back the cost of their (supposedly free) education if they move to work abroad. However, as 2012 is expected to be a year of sharp economic recession, suffocating political climate and growing discontent in Hungary, it is expected that young Hungarians will do what their dissident grandparents did in the 1960s and 70s. That is, voting with their feet.

Read more from the team at Budapest