Most students attend state schools, but there
are also a small number of private schools run by
religious communities. Hungary's officially recognized
minorities can be taught in their own language, but
especially Roma are discriminated against in the school
There is a compulsory school requirement for all
children between the ages of 6 and 16, and tuition is
free of charge. In addition, most children from the age
of three attend a two-year preschool. Nine out of ten
children attend the elementary school for eight years
and can then choose to continue in high school or
vocational school. Both of these higher stages last for
four years, of which the first two are compulsory.
Country facts of Hungary, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
During the 2000s, some efforts have been made to stop
discrimination against Roma in school. However, stated
aspirations to strengthen Roma culture through special
schools for Roma children have also been considered to
strengthen the minority's isolation from the rest of
society. One fifth of Roma children were reported to
attend special schools in the mid-2010s, but segregation
has been rejected in court (see Calendar). Hungary has
also received criticism for Roma children being placed
in schools for the mentally handicapped, following
decisions based on old-fashioned and prejudiced tests.
Among those who drop out of school are just over half
Under the Fidesz government that took office in 2010,
the governance of the schools and syllabuses has largely
been transferred from school management and
municipalities to a government agency. The changes have
met resistance among teachers, parents and students,
with demonstrations and strikes.
During the 2000s, it became increasingly popular
among young people to study at the country's more than
60 universities and colleges. But the proportion of
25-64 year olds with higher education is relatively low,
one quarter, compared to the rest of the EU. In 2012,
the government reduced the number of study places at the
state universities by almost 40 percent. At the same
time, a rule was introduced that everyone who graduates
from a publicly funded university must commit to staying
in Hungary for the time being. On average, academics are
required to work in Hungary about twice as many years as
the studies took.
The government is also in conflict with large parts
of the academic world. The research funds that the
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA in Hungarian
abbreviation, founded in 1825) previously had
independently are placed under the direct control of the
government. The purpose is to promote research that
generates income. The government has also stopped higher
education courses in gender science with the motivation
that such courses are about "ideology, not science".
From a university perspective, such measures are seen as
limitations on academic freedom. In 2018, the Central
European University (CEU) decided to leave the country.
The Hungarian government had for a long time campaigned
against CEU founder and financier George Soros.
- Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Hungary.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
91.4 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
99.1 percent (2014)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
9.2 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
9.2 percent (2015)
Orbán forces tax chief to sue diplomat
Prime Minister Orbán orders the head of the Treasury Vida to sue the US
Charge d'affaires in Budapest, which has accused her of corruption. Orbán says
he intends to dismiss Vida if she does not quickly file a lawsuit for slander
against the US diplomat. A few days later, she filed a lawsuit against the US's
highest representative in the country, André Goodfriend.
Demonstrations against corruption
Twice in December, thousands of people in Budapest demonstrate against tax
increases and alleged corruption within the government. Re-demand is demanded
that the head of the tax authority Ildikó Vida resign. According to the Median
opinion institute, support for the Fidesz government party has fallen from 38
percent in October to 26 percent. Confidence in Prime Minister Orbán has dropped
from 48 percent to 32.
Orbán criticizes the United States
Prime Minister Orbán strongly criticizes the US for "interference" in the
affairs of the Central European countries. He argues that the allegations of
corruption in Hungary are a pretext for the United States to increase its
influence in the region. He explains this with the ongoing negotiations on a
US-EU free trade agreement and the new "cold war" that is emerging between the
US and Russia because of the Ukraine conflict.
Requirements for the tax manager's departure
Thousands of people are demonstrating in Budapest against alleged corruption
by the tax authorities and against the general liberty in Hungary. The
protesters demand that Ildikó Vida's head of the tax authority resign. She is
the first to openly admit that she is on the list of Hungarians who have been
denied entry into the United States on charges of corruption.
The media tax is being raised
The disputed media tax (see June) is increased from 40 to 50
percent of advertising revenues for media companies that earn more than 20
billion forints annually, corresponding to about EUR 65 million, in advertising.
The change in law is considered tailor made for the media company RTL, which is
owned by the German group Bertelsmann. It is the only company in the industry
that has so much advertising revenue. It is known for often critical reporting
on the Hungarian government, including corruption cases, which has given it more
A week after thousands of Hungarians protested the government's policy during
the "Day of Indignation", a couple of thousand teachers in Budapest demonstrate
against planned budget cuts and the government's disinterest in a dialogue with
the teachers' unions about controversial changes in the curricula.
The EU refuses Hungarian candidate
The European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee rejects Hungary's
candidate for the post of European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth
and Citizenship issues. Former Minister of Justice Tibor Navravcsics is
associated with the committee with many of the authoritarian laws passed by the
The EU sues Hungary for land teams
The EU Commission is preparing Hungary for a 2012 law that prohibits certain
foreign ownership of arable land. The law was created to protect Hungarian
agriculture, but according to the EU, such restrictions on the right to foreign
investment mean that it may contravene EU rules on freedom of movement for
capital and freedom of establishment.
Corrupt Hungarians are banned from the United States
Six Hungarian citizens are prohibited from entering the United States.
According to the US Embassy in Budapest, these are senior officials and people
with contacts in the government. They are banned under US law that gives the
government the right to exclude foreigners whose corrupt behavior is considered
to harm US interests. The decision to stop the six Hungarians is made after a
prolonged US pressure on Hungary to review the political line that, according to
the United States, undermines democracy.
Protests against proposed Internet tax
A government proposal to impose a tax on Internet use raises strong protests.
According to the proposal, the Hungarians would have to pay 150 forints,
corresponding to about SEK 4:50, for each gigabyte of data traffic. The
government justifies the law by reducing the budget deficit, but the opposition
suspects that it is rather an attempt to silence government criticism, which is
usually expressed through social media. Others fear that the law will harm small
businesses and make it more difficult for residents in particularly poor areas
to gain access to information and study material. The European Commission is
also critical, saying that Hungary would set a bad example in the EU. In
addition, such a tax would risk slowing economic growth within the Union, says
Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Large protests in Budapest against the tax also take
the form of a broader protest against the government's ambitions to reshape
Hungarian society. After a few more days, Orbán is able to withdraw the bill,
which is unusually extensive and broadly focused, to withdraw the bill on
internet traffic tax.
Rides against Norwegian-supported organizations
Security personnel and police are raiding two voluntary organizations
financially supported by the Norwegian state. The organizations are said to be
suspected of financial crime linked to Norwegian aid. Since June, 58
Norwegian-supported NGOs have been forced to submit documentation of their
activities to the government's control authority. According to the Hungarian
government, some of the Norwegian-supported organizations have "links to the
political left". Among the organizations are civil rights groups, those that
investigate corruption and an internet site that deals with digging journalism.
New Foreign Minister
Prime Minister Orbán appoints Péter Szijjártó as Foreign Minister after Tibor
Navracsics, nominated as EU Commissioner. Szijjártó has most recently been
Deputy Foreign Minister and was previously the spokesman for the Prime Minister.
He is considered to be very close to Orbán.
New law squeezes banks
Parliament adopts a law that forces the banks to effectively reduce the debts
of private borrowers totaling some € 3.2 billion. The law intends to compensate
borrowers for earlier interest rate hikes that the government considers unfair.
This is largely about loans taken in foreign currencies before the financial
crisis 2008-2009. Under the new law, loan costs are estimated to be reduced by
an average of 25-30 percent. The commercial banks may not raise interest rates
or other fees for outstanding loans before April 30, 2016. The central bank will
support the commercial banks with EUR 3 billion from the country's foreign
exchange reserves to reduce, among other things, the risk that the Hungarian
currency will lose value. The law has been criticized in advance for reducing
investor confidence in Hungary and for risking slowing growth.
Parliament decides bank rates
Parliament adopts laws designed to alleviate the financial burden on
households with home loans; One million Hungarians are estimated to have taken
out loans in foreign currencies and their debt to the banks increased sharply in
connection with the financial crisis 2008-2009. Now, the mostly foreign-owned
banks are forced to maintain the same exchange rate as when the loans were
granted, nor can they raise interest rates. The banks say the laws threaten
Hungary's reputation among foreign investors.
Orbán judges liberal democracy
In an ideologically emblematic speech to party supporters and ethnic
Hungarians in Romania, Prime Minister Orbán concludes with "the era of liberal
democracies". He claims that the Western world's methods of trying to get out of
the economic crisis since 2008 have proved unsustainable and cites more
authoritatively controlled countries such as China, Russia, Turkey and
Singapore. In the "new" Hungary he wants to create, society should be organized
in a way that differs from "the dogmatic ideologies accepted in the Western
world". Orbán also announces that Parliament is appointing a committee for
constant monitoring of "foreigners trying to gain influence in Hungary". He
describes the committee as a kind of "spiritual anti-robot system".
HD interferes with radio and TV
The Supreme Court ruled that radio and TV must not describe the right-wing
extremist Jobbik as a party "on the far right of Parliament". According to the
court, Jobbik does not consider himself an extreme right, which is why surface
print gets a personal opinion to describe the party that way. The commercial TV
channel ATV, which was previously released in a lower instance, is convicted of
violating the requirement for impartial news reporting in the etheric media.
Disputed media tax is assumed
Parliament adopts a disputed media tax that has been criticized for risking
eroding media freedom and deteriorating media companies' finances; The law means
that the state levies a tax on 40 percent of the media companies' advertising
revenue. The government says in its defense that the money should be used to
improve schools and that much of the supply in the commercial media is a threat
to society. Viktor Orban's government has previously been criticized for a
number of special taxes aimed at industries with large foreign ownership
interests, such as banks, energy, retail and telecommunications.
Requirements for self-government for Hungarians abroad
In his installation speech as he assumes his new term as prime minister,
Viktor Orbán demands self-government for ethnic Hungarians in other countries.
He mentions in particular the approximately 200,000 Hungarians living in
Ukraine. He also says his government opposes EU directives on facilitating
Prison for 92-year-old war criminal
92-year-old Béla Biszko is sentenced to five and a half years in prison for
war crimes in connection with the 1956 Soviet invasion. Biszko, who was later
Minister of the Interior under the Communist regime, has been in house arrest
since December 2012. He is the first Communist official to stand trial since a
law passed in 2011 made it possible to investigate those responsible for the
killings in 1956.
Fidesz wins in EU elections
The Fidesz ruling party receives almost 52 percent of the votes in the
Hungarian election to the European Parliament and 12 of the country's 20 seats.
Right-wing extremism Jobbik goes back compared to the national election in April
but still gets the second largest with almost 15 percent, giving three terms.
The Socialist Party, with just under 11 percent, and the Socialist Breakout
Party Democratic Coalition by nearly 10 percent, each receive two seats. The
Green Party just passes the five percent barrier and can send two delegates to
Brussels. The turnout is just under 29 percent.
The European Court of Justice criticizes the government
The European Court of Human Rights states that the government dismissed
András Baka Supreme Court President for political reasons. Baka was forced to
resign in 2012, three years before the end of his term, since he criticized new
laws that he felt would impair the independence of the judiciary. For the time
being, the European Court does not impose any penalty on the government.
The Socialist leader resigns
Socialist Party leader Attila Mesterházy resigns after the party's two
difficult election losses during the year.
Big rolling victory for Fidesz
Fidesz retains government power after another major victory in the
parliamentary elections on April 6. Although the party will decline from close
to 53 percent in 2010 to 45.1 percent, a decline of around 600,000 votes, but
the changed electoral system (see Political system) still gives an almost equal
majority as last. Fidesz gets 133 of the 199 seats in the new parliament. The
newly formed Socialist-led Left Alliance (see January) gets
25.7 percent and 38 seats, while right-wing extremist Jobbik increases from just
under 17 percent to 20.3, giving the party 23 seats. Fidesz thus retains the
two-thirds majority that allows the government to continue to amend the
constitution on its own. The green party LMP gets 5.4 percent and 5 seats. OSCE
election observerssays that the election was on the whole well-organized but
that Fidesz was unfairly favored by, among other things, unilateral media
coverage to the government's advantage and campaign activities that blurred the
boundaries between party politics and the state's activities. The new electoral
system has also benefited the ruling party, says the OSCE; a complaint that the
opposition has already made.
The EU court criticizes Orbán
Two days after the parliamentary elections, the EU court ruled that Prime
Minister Orbán violated EU law when he dismissed the head of the data protection
authority in 2012. The Court says that the independence of supervisory
authorities requires its chiefs to serve his entire term of office.
Great manifestation against anti-Semitism
Tens of thousands of people participate in a demonstration in Budapest
against anti-Semitism. The large number of participants is interpreted as a
reaction to the far-right party Jobbik's successes in the parliamentary
Hungarian nationalists are banned in Romania
Relations with Romania have been strained since the Bucharest government
banned members of four Hungarian "extremist" nationalist organizations from
entering Romania. They would have participated in the Hungarian National Day
celebration in places in Romania with a large Hungarian population. The
Hungarian government responds by demanding increased autonomy for Hungarians in
The Deputy Socialist leader is forced away
Two months before the election, the Socialist Party's Deputy Chairman Simon
Gábor is forced to resign and leave the party after newspaper reports that since
2008 he had undeclared money in an account with an Austrian bank.
Agreement on Russian nuclear power building
Parliament approves an agreement for Russian Rosatom to expand the nuclear
power plant in Pak approximately 10 km south of Budapest. The opposition is
protesting against how the agreement has been concluded and an EU spokesman says
it may be relevant to review whether the tendering procedure has been done in
accordance with EU rules.
Russian loan for nuclear construction
Hungary may borrow EUR 10 billion from Russia to build nuclear reactors. The
deal is announced when Prime Minister Orbán meets with Russian President
Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Orbán appreciates Putin's leadership and praises the
progress Hungary has made in the trade with Russia.
Opposition alliance ahead of the election
Three opposition parties - the Socialists, Together 2014-PM and the
Democratic coalition - agree to draw up a joint list in the parliamentary
elections in April. Socialist leader Attila Mesterházy becomes their joint
candidate for the Prime Minister post.