Politics, nation and identity in the midst of Hungary’s refugee crisis

industry-rails-train-pathErin Marie Saltman, senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, discusses the current refugee crisis, and explores the politics of Hungary’s response to it.  

 


Hungarian political discourse has taken a dark turn as the refugee crisis has been enveloped with fear of a nation losing its identity.

The current crisis that now dominates headlines has shown images of Syrian refugees quarantined within Hungarian train stations, protesting for the right to safely pursue new lives in Europe as asylum seekers. Yet even before the current crisis now affecting Hungary, despite being a country with a relatively low influx and outflux of migrants, the topic of immigration has become increasingly salient with strong political divides.

Thousands of refugees have been sleeping for several days in train stations, many refused transportation onward – despite many being ticket holders. A large group of refugees have even begun to walk the 110 miles to Austria in desperation. The current situation is unquestionably severe. 160,000 migrants are estimated as having entered Hungary this year, mainly en route to various other destinations. Migrants have held demonstrations in Budapest, welcomed by heavy police presence, asking that they be allowed to leave on trains bound westward, where they hope for a more amenable situation. Continue reading