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Emigration in focus

April 16th, 2015

A left-wing columnist accuses the Orbán government of effectively driving Hungarians with minority backgrounds and left-leaning young people out of the country. His conservative counterpart dismisses the accusations and remarks that studying or working abroad for a couple of years is part of normal life in a free country.

According to the Hungarian Central Office’s report published last week,  31,500 Hungarians left the country to work abroad in 2014. The number of migrants who leave Hungary for at least a year has doubled since 2013 and increased six fold since 2009. Since 1989, 350,000 Hungarians are estimated to have spent at least a year abroad. 44 per cent of migrants are below the age of 30.

In Népszava, Gyula Hegyi likens the effects of Hungarian emigration to the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty, which resulted in the loss of two-thirds of Hungary’s population. The left-wing columnist contends that Hungarians leave the country not only in search of jobs and prosperity, but because they also want to live in a free society. Hegyi suggests that the Orbán government wants to force its nationalist Christian conservative ideology on the population and does not respect the sensitivities of ethnic and religious minorities. He adds that left-leaning Hungarians leave as a result of what Hegyi calls “the government’s hate campaign”. Hegyi fears that if the same trend continues, Hungary will become a fast aging society marked by fierce social tension.

There is nothing wrong in the fact that Hungarians want to get educational and work experience abroad, Ferenc Sinkovics comments in Magyar Hírlap. The conservative columnist believes that it is misleading to count Hungarians who spend a year abroad as migrants. Sinkovics dismisses the Left’s accusations according to which young Hungarians leave because they want to escape the Orbán government. He believes that many Hungarian expatriates leave only with the intention to return after some years, which is natural in free societies. Sinkovics, however, acknowledges that it is a loss if well qualified Hungarians take up blue collar jobs abroad in the hope of a better life. Sinkovics concludes by suggesting that Hungary could stop or slow emigration by strengthening national feeling and patriotic sentiments rather than inculcating cosmopolitan antinationalist liberal ideologies in young generations.

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