At the heart of the Carpathian Basin pulses the resilience and hope of the Hungarian people. A civilization molded from a history fraught with compounding obstacles, the pain of the past still burns deep in the national consciousness as the struggle for stability continues.
Clawing for survival, the Orban administration has turned inward and eastward. Hungary’s retreat from a liberal democracy has been executed in the shadows of the dark clouds in the Middle East and Ukraine. The international community, however, cannot afford to ignore the dissolving democracy.
Beginning with the Mongolian invasion in 1241, where nearly half of the Hungarian population was decimated, Hungary’s location has generated a history of deflecting invading hoards for Western Europe. Again in 1456, the Hungarians, led by Janos Hunyadi, defeated the Turkish Army, thus defending the gates of the European heartland.
In recent memory, Hungary has played an intricate role in the balance of power within Europe. Its defeat in World War I, compounded with the loss of significant portions of territory through the Treaty of Trianon, contributed to Hungary’s alignment with the Axis Power in the signing of the Tripartite Pact. The arrangement would again lead the Hungarians to defeat.
Defeat was followed by the occupation of the Communists within the nation-state for much of the twentieth century. Hungary found itself caught between the struggles of NATO super powers and their Soviet counterpart.
Shackled by the tentacles of Moscow, Hungary retained its focus on the west, persistently pushing the Communist boundaries.
The perseverance would pay off with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1990, Hungarians returned to the polls for the first free elections held since 1945.
The transition from Communism was not easy, however. The jolt that followed the release from a command economy and Soviet constraints shuddered the social stratums.
Decreased living standards and a transition toward more open markets contributed to significant political volatility throughout the years following the emergence of the new Hungarian Democratic Republic. Hungary, however, showed significant promise as it embraced Western Europe.
In 1999, Hungary became a member of NATO and was integrated into the European Union in 2004.
Turbulent politics and a poor economic structure left Hungary vulnerable to the 2008 recession. The global economic crisis would prove too detrimental for the Hungarian economy and it broke Forint’s poorly-retained power and stability.