Front-line city and politics of expulsion
Budapest is somewhat of an outlier when it comes to the rest of Europe because of the low level of refugees granted refugee status and with residency. Asylum seekers are in transit zones or detention centres and not allowed out onto streets while their claims are being decided. For this reason, there has been the most rapid transition amongst civil groups from emergency provision to thousands of people (only really summer 2015), and now groups still operational are in receipt of international grants (UNHCR, EU’s ECHO programme) for long-term “integration” programmes.
However, these are difficult to realise in a climate of negative publicity and politics around foreigners and refugees. This year has seen the re-election of Viktor Orban and the Fidez right wing party, reflecting a growing trend towards increasingly deterrence-based European politics towards refugees and the extreme anti-immigration response of certain right wing populist governments in Europe. We have witnessed the growing crack-down and criminalisation of civil society groups, many of whom are working on behalf of and with refugees. In Budapest, a common theme that has emerged is state abdication and denial of responsibility at multiple levels – the Hungarian government cannot be “bought” by the promise of EU money.