Why has the popularly elected government of this small nation surrounded by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Croatia received so much criticism? Why has Slovakia challenged a recently enacted law allowing ethnic Hungarians living in regions formerly part of Hungary to apply for Hungarian citizenship, despite the existence of similar laws in other countries? Why is Hungary’s new Constitution, its first permanent written constitution since 1949, being questioned? And just how stable and prosperous is this fascinating country in the heart of Central Europe?
Hungary continues to confront its history: the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom after World War I, which cost Hungary two-thirds of its territory and left large Hungarian communities outside its borders, followed by 50 years of post-World War II Communism. In the twenty years since the Communist regime collapsed various Hungarian governments have struggled to create a democratic state and solve the country’s social and economic problems, but a multitude remain as harbingers for the future.