What with a shrinking economy, above-10-percent unemployment, political corruption, and a government that displays a sometimes unbelievable arrogance, surely there are plenty of reasons for Hungarians to be out on the street?
Yet in a summer that has seen huge middle-class demonstrations in countries such as Turkey, Brazil, and even Bulgaria – all fed up with the ineptitude and arrogance of their elected rulers – Hungarians remain docile, apathetic, and frankly bored.
It is one of the clichés in the Central European lexicon of national character traits that Hungarians are unusually prone to pessimism and are cynical to a man.
Didn’t Endre Ady, the poet, write:
I am the son of King Gog of Magog
I’m banging doors and walls to no avail
Yet I must ask this question as prologue
May I weep in the grim Carpathian vale
Yet isn’t another cliché about Hungarians – splendidly dramatized by Michael York’s explosive, table-banging Count Andrenyi in the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express– that they are temperamental and quick to anger?