After being delayed not once but twice due to COVID-19 everything was a go for the Club of Hohenheim’s first study trip in three years. This year’s destination was to be Budapest, Hungary and our trip was scheduled shortly after parliamentary elections which saw the Eurosceptic Fidesz party retain its two thirds majority - a perfect setting for thought provoking political discourse! Sadly, the pandemics lingering effects on the availability of affordable travel routes reduced our group to a highly motivated group of seven. Two travelers were not even CoH-Members but students who took notice of our Social Media presence and spontaneously tagged along – but they fit right in and were great contribution to the troupe.
Our first day kicked off with a tour of Hungary’s stylistically impressive parliamentary building. Which got us in the frame of mind for our visit to the Institute for Political Science. Here, we were treated to a discourse on how contemporary developments in liberal democracies (e.g. the rise of populism) contrast with the normative expectations on the theory of democracy (rule of law, institutions) through the Weberian concept of plebiscitary autocratic leadership. We’d like to thank Dr. Körösényi for introducing us to this topic and hope his funding isn’t impeded by current examples of plebiscitary authoritarians.
Next up was a visit to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Multi-Country Office which overseas the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. Our hosts took great care in leading an interactive panel discussion which challenged us to consider how the legal definition and our personal perception of what it means to be a refugee might differ. Furthermore, we were given the task of drawing the floor plan of things we thought a refugee might need in their knew home. While it led to some very avantgarde post-modern drawings it also allowed us to reflect upon how the current refugee crisis is echoing so differently throughout Europe than the last.
On the following day our first stop was at the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, where – naturally – we mainly discussed the economic and business ties between Hungary and Germany. Our discussion partner was the head of communications Dirk Wölfer. We took note of the importance of trade in intermediate products in the automotive sector for the Hungarian Economy and of Hungarian refineries dependence on heavy Russian crude. The latter playing an important factor in European discussions on sanctions against the Russian Oil industry. In the afternoon we met a representative of the Friedrich Ebert Institute who permitted us a free choice over the subject he would address. Naturally, we were interested in his views on the current prime minister Viktor Orban which began a fascinating discussion on his political skill and persona. To quote the man himself: “If I had been born a citizen of a larger nation, who knows I might be President of European Commission”. Unsurprisingly, modesty doesn’t seem to be part of his personality.
Our final day together was spent on a relaxed bike tour through Pest and a traditional Hungarian dinner. All in all, we thought it was a pleasure to be able to get together again after such a long time and are looking forward to 2023! Hamarosan Találkozunk!