All posts by jweinstein

The Hungarian Divide

Poverty in Hungary has become an increasingly large problem over the last several years, and there is a great rift in between rural life and urban life in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Urbanization of Hungary has created an even larger divide between the rural areas and urban areas, as well as destroying the agricultural industry.

hungary graph Urbanization

There is a very high percentage of Hungarian citizens living in cities, and this has been rising over the last decade, with people migrating from rural areas to urban areas. This factor greatly contributes to the failing agriculture in Hungary, as the rural farmers are all migrating to cities because they are far too poor to maintain their land. As the urban population is rising, the rural population is in decline at a fairly high rate in the past decade.

hungary rural pop

 

The population in rural areas has dropped almost 6% in the past decade, giving way to the gradual decline in agricultural production. This does not improve poverty rates in the country, as the poor farmers move to the city only to get stuck in the slums. The unemployment rate is a growing problem in Hungary as well, going hand in hand with the poverty rate, with many people requiring financial assistance. There are as many workplaces as there are workers in most rural areas outside of Budapest, with more people living off the benefits of assistance than people who actually hold jobs. The image below depicts how poor some of the rural farmers are; no electricity and no internet, keeping them walled of from the outside world. This man must use the water in his well in order to keep things cold, as he does not have a refrigerator.

poor man hungary

The rural citizens compared to the residents of Budapest have a completely different lifestyle and views, and Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, appeals to them much more than urban areas, truly showing the divide between the different lifestyles. Orban has a strong anti-immigrant policy that those in rural areas agree with, for many of them are older and lived through soviet union control and are terrified of culture change. The Urban populous tends to be younger and be pro-immigrant, however Orban won his third election by a small margin in the past month. This caused a massive protest in Budapest by young and old alike, for they were outraged Orban’s terrible immigrant policies would be enforced.

hungarian protest

This urban-rural divide does not seem to have any immediate fixes, and will take large efforts by the Hungarian government to bring change and unite the people, and fix the agricultural decline.

The Fraudulent Widow

Cristina Kirchner became a figurehead of feminism in the modern age, having been democratically elected president of Argentina beginning in 2007. She is no longer the president of Argentina, having served her two consecutive terms in office. Her husband Nestor, who served as president from 2003-2007, and died in 2010. The world believed Cristina Kirchner would not be able to govern the country effectively after her husband’s death. She crafted her own populist way of governing, supported by the poorer people of Argentina, beloved for her humble beginnings and her favor towards them.

Kirchner rose through the ranks in politics to reach the presidency which she held for two four year terms. She had been heavily involved in government since she was elected to the senate in 2001, helping her husband get elected in 2003 while dealing with outward pressure discriminating against her gender. In 2005 came her most important senatorial victory, which was election as the representative of Buenos Aires, where thirty-eight percent of the county of Argentina’s population resided. Once her husband completed his term, he declared he would not run again and his wife, Cristina Kirchner, would succeed him. Kirchner was believed to just be a puppet president, controlled by Nestor, continuing the policies of the previous presidency. The doubters were inevitably proved wrong as she emerged independant after her husband’s death.

Public support of Kirchner was extremely high in her first term in office. Her economic policies heavily favored the poor, impoverished majority who eagerly voted for her. Her husband, Nestor, had a similar policy and was popular with the people of Argentina. However, a female figure in power was a great invitation for change, considering her husband had decided not to run. Her critical policy of big businesses took the side of the people, which became a popular viewpoint of politicians.

Kirchner, once elected to her first term in 2007, put in place a tax on grain exports, which was meant to lower prices for goods aimed towards the poorer classes. This tax created an intense food shortage within Argentina, and it was revoked not long after it was put in place. Perhaps Kirchner’s most celebrated achievement was the signing of the document to allow same sex marriages in Argentina, becoming the first Latin-American country to do so. Kirchner began focusing on adding agricultural exports during her time in office, as well as increasing regulation on imports and encouragement of local manufacturing. Kirchner’s love for the people of poverty in Argentina stems from her ancestral ties to immigrants into the country, appealing to the lower classes as a president. “I’m a daughter of the middle class with a strong sense of social mobility and individualism, like the waves of immigrants, like my Spanish grandparents, who made Argentina”.

Although the economy appeared to be growing once again in Argentina during her first term, the wealth was not shared with the poorer classes, with the large businesses retaining most of it, which the public has come to noticed. 51 percent of the population lived below the poverty line until 2009, when Kirchner and the Argentine government created a program that gave financial incentives to children of unemployed parents to send their children to school. It spread money from the wealthier big businesses around, as to improve the general economy, though it was frowned upon by the businesses. This idea lowered poverty greatly, but created the problem of overcrowded schools, which continues to persist. Her work on the unemployment rate in Argentina kept her in favour with the people, but she had a falling out with them in her second term, not getting reelected and was charged with many political crimes.

Cristina Kirchner’s strategy to give to the poor inevitably failed, crashing the economy in Argentina, for the peso decreased in value by over 22% in her final year due to the lack of cash the bank had in its possession, as well as keeping the inflation rate artificially low, leading to the explosion of the rate after she left office. The positive outcome was only short term, the benefits of her socialist populism losing steam in her second term, resulting in long term damage to the Argentine economy.