End-of-Year - Review

Report of our roundtable-discussion which analized 2021


End-of-Year - Review

Republikon Intézet

Republikon Institute organized again its annual End-of-Year Review, just like last year in a hybrid format. The main topic of the discussion was the evaluation of the year 2021, although the guests were also asked to tell what are they predicting for 2022. The Institute invited guests from the Hungarian public life who have had significant roles during the year. The conversation was moderated by Gábor Horn and Andrea Virág.

Participants of the discussion were Gábor Iványi (pastor), Gabriella Lantos (health politician), Péter Pető (journalist) and Krisztina Tóth (writer).

Gábor Horn in his introduction said that for him 2021 went by in a blink of an eye. For him this year meant the complete lack of civil life. On the one hand, this means that social life has been gravely affected by the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic. On the other hand, it means that in the happenings of political life many have lost their sense of direction or even their hopes and faith due to some particular events.

However, he thinks that despite all of these 2021 was indeed quite an exciting and significant year.

As a health policy expert, Gabriella Lantos reflected on the epidemiological situation. The first doses of the new Covid vaccines were administered 1 year ago. Even though in the developed world the vaccination rate is relatively high, half of the world’s population is still unvaccinated. Consequently, more and more new virus variants appear, just like the Omicron variant. Lantos also emphasized that it will be extremely challenging to vaccinate those people who are not yet vaccinated. The main reason for this is not the insufficient economic situation of the affected counties rather the low level of the public’s trust towards the countries’ administration.

In connection with Hungary, she explained that the vaccination rate in the country is not bad, nevertheless even more people should be vaccinated, as the vaccination rate always indicates a status of a given period. In the case of the currently available vaccines, this period is 4 to 6 months, thus besides administering first and second doses, booster jabs should also be promoted.

About 2022, she is quite pessimistic. Unless we achieve a vaccination rate of 90 to 100% there will always come another wave of infections and we won’t stand a chance to get back our normal life. She believes that this goal can only be achieved with mandatory vaccination.

Krisztina Tóth, connecting to the introductory thoughts of Gábor Horn told that her professional life as well was quite eventless in 2021. However, in connection with the happenings concerning artists in Hungary, she expressed quite harsh criticism. Over the last year, she felt that political manipulation has been systematically destroying the artist community, both professionally and communally. The Hungarian artist community is more and more divided, furthermore, such injuries have been caused that cannot be healed overnight.

Tóth also shared her thoughts regarding Hungarian society as a whole. The amount of hate and anger piled up in the people worries her gravely, since it creates a highly frustrated public mood. Besides, she considers it dangerous that extremist views, which were indeed always present can be expressed more and more openly. She thinks that both the Hungarian society and the artist community specifically are on a downhill slide, however, they will not be able to heal themselves.

Péter Pető evaluated the situation of the media in 2021 more optimistically. Due to the pandemic, 2020 was mainly characterized by uncertainty. Compared to this, 2021 was undoubtedly about the management of the new set of norms, formed during 2020. Over the past decade, the happenings and outcomes in politics became quite predictable. The primary elections have revitalized political life, and as it seems, this innovation attracted attention.

Towards the elections in April, he expressed great interest, especially because of the campaign that is of great importance for the media. Pető does not expect a moderate campaign, although he doesn’t think that this would be a unique feature of Hungarian politics. Political polarization and social phenomena connecting to polarization are global patterns, therefore he is quite pessimistic whether this will change for the better in the near future. He holds global tech companies (and social media) liable for creating and maintaining this pattern. Unlike traditional media sources these companies do not take responsibility for the information they make available basically for anybody thus undermining the very principle of democracy, that is conflicts.

However, he believes that hope is a necessary element of our everyday life, thus he is optimistic about 2022 even though this may be in contradiction with the reality of the pandemic.

Gábor Iványi said that he thinks about 2021 as a successful year, despite all their difficulties. They have continued their charity work with the same momentum as before in homeless care as well as in education. In the latter field, he recognizes more and more problems since the beginning of the pandemic. For instance, there is a shortage of digital devices among students living in the poorer regions of the country. However, he witnessed that during the pandemic many children realized how much they like going to school. Even though he often feels that his colleagues are tired, they keep on working for their goals. During the pandemic, this work became extremely difficult as they did not receive any government funding. Nonetheless, after the decision made by the European Court of Human Rights, they were eligible to receive donations from people’s payroll taxes. They were thrilled that they received the 5th most donations among churches. At the end of his review, he said that we live in really dark times, although there is always a reason to feel joy.

For the closing remarks, Gábor Horn asked the participants to share their thoughts and predictions regarding 2022. They all agreed that the most important event of the following year will be the elections regardless of its result. In public life they do not expect any significant changes, since it will require a lot of time and energy to reunify this heavily polarized society. All of them said that in the next year, whatever the circumstances shall be, they will focus on the things that they are good at and devote their energies to the fields where they can help the most.



Co-founded by the Europe for Citizens Programme
of the Europen Union