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It’s the emigration, stupid: Where Viktor Orbán is wrong

Hungary has an emigration problem, not immigration controlled by Soros.

The Hungarian Prime Minister calls for the final battle to save the Hungarian soul and Christianity. In his eyes, Hungary is threatened by Islamist mass immigration, operated by speculator George Soros with support from the useful idiots leading the EU. Migration is the weapon of the mortal enemies. Hungary was deceived after World War II, its territory should be larger. Friends of a special kind are the Russians, loving Hungary so much that they came to rescue the country in 1956. Unfortunately, Alois Mock only cut the Iron Curtain instead of moving it to Hungary’s southern border. A few decades later, Donald Trump would have helped with a wall.

In many respects the very opposite is true. Hungary is not threatened by immigration, but by a lack of investment and jobs for young Hungarians who strive for higher lifetime incomes. Many Hungarians left their country in the 1950s for fear of communism. They were welcomed in Austria because their ancestors helped with integration, but also because Hungarians had the reputation of being industrious, light-hearted and inventive. For Austria, however, this was a dangerous “population replacement”; instead of pure-blooded Teutons, there came a foreign people with a language that was neither Germanic nor Romanic, but “Finno-Ugric”. This might have shaken the fading “German” or the nascent Austrian identity. But the readiness to help prevailed, the Hungarians’ talents were recognized, and Austria’s national unity was not at stake.

Hungarians are still coming to Austria today. Now it is “economic migration”. People want better lives, more money for their families. Waiters and construction workers commute on a daily or weekly basis. They help keep up Burgenland’s gastronomy, building sector, agriculture and (health) tourism.

Hungary has an emigration problem, not immigration controlled by Soros. The EU forecasts that the number of 20 to 30 year olds in Hungary will fall from 1.6 million to one million by 2050. This trend means that there will be no new businesses, schools will have to close down, universities lose quality if they are not exiled altogether (CEU). There is no immigration from western countries, exiled Hungarians do not return, structural funds are not applied for or misused for corruption. In 2018, only 600 people have overcome the new barbed wire.

Who is going to tell Orbán?

Not every community can and wants to accept migrants as a strategy against looming demise. But each one should develop a concept for what the region should look like in 2050, what strengths it will develop, with jobs and prospects for the future. It’s typical for populists to only say what should not be, to fabricate a foreign bogeyman and to yearn for the good old days of a homogeneous, Christian and greater Hungary.

In Orbán’s defence: This is true not only for Hungary. In the Baltic States and southern Europe, the young population is also declining by half, just as in ten districts in Austria (most of which in Burgenland, Carinthia, and Styria). Future-oriented “lateral thinking concepts” are needed here. One starting point is qualified migration; and if the region is not attractive enough for this, further qualification of those willing to integrate who come with medium qualifications. The deportation of apprentices is certainly wrong.

Heterogeneity is an advantage, as we know thanks to exiled Hungarians in Austria. Who is going to tell Orbán?

Karl Aiginger is Director of the Policy Crossover Center Vienna and Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. This article was first published in the newspaper Die Presse on the 28th of March 2019.
#loveyouEU received permission from the author to publish the comment on and social media channels by the initiative.
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