Submitted by: Amanda Jarrett
Economic flows are measured by the flow of ideas, goods and services between borders, and the transferring of knowledge. This upbeat perspective emits the idea that all states are in support of a borderless world, but fails to acknowledge that some states prefer to remain nationalistic. In the article, “Hungary’s Lawmakers Reject Plan to Block Resettlement of Refugees” by Bardi and Karasz, they spoke about how the proposal of the refugee resettlement within Hungary failed.
The far right party of Jobbik were crucial for the defeat of the amendment. Their decision was motivated by the chance to improve their political standing within Prime Minister Orban’s government. Orban’s administration has been pursuing an aggressive campaign against migrants specifically from the Middle East—including Northern Africa. He built a razor-wire fence to prevent any migrants to cross the southern border as they journey to Germany.
This rhetoric is fueled by a nationalistic view of international policies. Since Hungary is a member state of the European Union they are supposed to follow the Migration Management program (European Commission) that would require them to help relocate about 1200 out of 160,000 refugees coming to Europe for emergency resettlement (Bardi and Palko). The decision of the Hungarian government can be further explained by mercantilism, which is the best theory to analyze the outcome rather than other theories such as constructivism and liberalism.
The main objective of a state in mercantilism is to construct and maintain wealth and power in order to ensure the state’s survival through measures of security and independence from real and imagined threats (Balaam and Dillman). Hungary is afraid of migrants entering into their country because they could run the risk of corrupting the Hungarian residency program.
This program states that anyone with a certain amount of money can invest and own private property within the state whether or not they are a citizen. They cannot predict the reliability of these migrants and assume that they will eventually return home, leaving the residency program to fall apart from lack of finance. Their stance is protectionist because they are not taking any risk on a real or imagined threat.
Additionally, since Hungary is a member of the EU, they went directly against this international institution by not abiding by the migrant resettlement program (Bardi and Palko). This highlights the prospect of mercantilism that mentions that states do not render themselves to institutions, which reinforces the dominance of states.
The perspective of constructivism highlights the racism behind the decision of the Hungarian government. They specifically did not want to deal with migrants from the Middle East because they were afraid that opening their borders would allow unwanted terrorists into their country. This narrative, and the aggressive strategy of the government to pursue this, reiterates stereotypes of Islam (BBC). In this case, instead of defending against imagined threats, they may actually be defending against imaginary threats.
This may have influenced Hungary’s decision, but it can be hard to confirm this because the decision was completely logical and rational from their standpoint. They did not want to risk economic investment of a population that cannot be predicted.
Lastly, liberalism does not explain the situation either because Prime Minister Orban is “creating an ‘illiberal state’ and argues that authoritarian systems […] are a more appropriate model than western liberal states” (BBC). The environment created for those voting for the amendment was not one that encouraged opposing opinions to the dominant narrative. Also, the theory of liberalism thrives on the interdependence between states. This is not the case for Hungary, seeing that they went against the EU—an institution that encourages interdependence—by not following the resettlement program.
In conclusion, the Hungarian government refuses to abide by the Migration Management program that the EU established because they are not constrained to the limitations of international institutions, which supports the mercantilist view of a continued state hierarchy. Cooperation with other states and institutions is also unlikely. Lastly, Hungary prefers a protectionist economic view to their decision. The rationale to the decision making strongly favors the view of a mercantilist.
Balaam, David, and Bradford Dillman. “Wealth and Power: The Mercantilist Perspective.” Introduction to International Political Economy, 6th ed., Pearson, 2014, pp. 53–78.
“Fidesz Versus Jobbik: Not Much Difference.” Hungarian Spectrum: Reflections on Politics, Economics, and Culture, WordPress, 24 May 2015.
“Hungary Profile – Leaders.” BBC News, BBC, 14 June 2017.
Karasz, Balint Bardi and Palko. “Hungary’s Lawmakers Reject Plan to Block Resettlement of Refugees.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Nov. 2016.
“State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis.” European Commission: Press Release Database, European Commission, 29 Jan. 2016.