The campaign by Hungary Tourism – By Walton Pantland Budapest is hot this winter — that’s the message plastered all over London Underground by Hungary Tourism. “Think Hungary — more than expected” is the brain-mangling slogan chosen — probably via Goog …

Walton Pantland Anti-fascism, Racism
The campaign by Hungary Tourism

The campaign by Hungary Tourism

– By Walton Pantland

Budapest is hot this winter — that’s the message plastered all over London Underground by Hungary Tourism.

“Think Hungary — more than expected” is the brain-mangling slogan chosen — probably via Google translate — by the tourism agency to encourage us to hop on a plane heading East. The agency is extolling Hungary’s steaming health spas, cuisine (“not only paprika”) and sizzling culture.

But the are plenty of things about Hungary that aren’t so hot: the country has an image problem that no amount of tourist board PR will solve. A rising right wing climate has seen the fascist Jobbik party get 12% of the vote. Jobbik — who organised a rally in London recently — are accused of anti-semitic and anti-Roma policies.

And the swing to the right affects the poor too: Hungary, a country with 30,000 homeless people, has just attempted to solve its homelessness crisis by making homelessness illegal.

This has been highlighted by a good news, human interest story: László Andraschek, a homeless man, won £1,7 million in the lottery, after buying a ticket with his last few coins.

Mr Andraschek has kept a low profile, using the money to pay off the debts of friends and family, and buying flats for his children.

His win went unnoticed until he made a large donation to a homeless hostel. Those forced to live on the streets face a fine or imprisonment, and Mr Andraschek — who understands all too well how easy it is to fall through the cracks in society — is using his new wealth to help.

But individual donations will never be enough, and social problems can’t be solved by criminalisation. This is the same reactionary politics seen in Greece recently, when the right wing government there tried to criminalise HIV.

There have been protests against this new law outside Hungarian embassies around the world, including this one in Dublin, Ireland below:

Instead of indulging in the steamy delights of a hot Budapest, we need to show our solidarity with those left out in the cold, and keep up the pressure on the Hungarian authorities.

More on homelessness in Hungary.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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