2011. december 27., kedd

Hungary: playing chicken

   One of the smaller head-on car crashes in what could still turn out to be a multi-car pile-up in the EU next year is taking place in Hungary. At the wheel of this particular Trabant is the conservative prime minister Viktor Orbán, a man who vowed to accomplish a genuine regime change instead of what he calls the failed one of 1989. His widespread personnel changes go far beyond the turnaround that usually occurs when a party sweeps to power.
He is using an overwhelming electoral victory to overwhelm the institutions of state. The posts of president, chief prosecutor and head of the court of auditors were filled with Fidesz party faithful. The constitutional court, the supreme council, the budget council and the central bank were cut down to size. A state agency supervises the media. A generation of judges, headmasters and hospital directors will have been replaced by a combination of constitutional changes (lowering the retirement age of judges) and 39 fundamental laws (which need the approval of two-thirds of the MPs) to change voting rights, pensions and party financing. Orbán's is indeed a revolution, but not for the poor. He is using the turbulent history of his country to turn the clock back. Under his party's vision, Hungary is not a republic any more but "the country of Hungarians", which includes Hungarians living abroad and comes complete with a map of "Great Hungary". His party also flirts with the far-right Jobbik party, whose uniformed guards terrorised the Roma in a village in north Hungary. To please Jobbik, a square was renamed after an antisemitic writer condemned for war crimes in Romania.
In the process, Orbán has alienated just about every natural friend his country has. Hillary Clinton, the EU and the IMF have all at some time walked off. The issue is not Hungary's debt – at 80% of GDP it is the highest in central Europe – but the government. The row has coalesced around two laws which the EU claims would undermine the independence of the central bank and which José Manuel Barroso said breached European law. Brussels has decided to play hardball with Orbán. No change in the legislation, and the prospect of funding, which would help Hungary regain access to the markets, is also slim. Just to ram home the point, Hungary's second credit-ratings downgrade in a month to junk status pushed the five-year bond yield through the 9% mark last week.
So far Orbán's response has been to keep his foot down on the accelerator and the car pointed firmly at the oncoming EU juggernaut. The wider question is whether Orbán is sui generis. The nightmare would be if his form of xenophobic, rightwing nationalism became the norm in Europe's periphery.

2011. december 26., hétfő

Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution - Kim Lane Scheppele

December 19, 2011, 10:31 AM

Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution

Last week I devoted a column to the unsettling political developments in Hungary. To expand on all this, I’ve asked my Princeton colleague Kim Lane Scheppele, who has been working extensively on the situation, to contribute a post. It’s below the fold.
Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution
Kim Lane Scheppele
Last week, Paul Krugman’s column “Depression and Democracy” called attention to Hungary’s “authoritarian slide.” Since I was one of the sources for Paul’s column, I’d like to explain why I have been alarmed at the state of both constitutionalism and democracy in Hungary.
In a free and fair election last spring in Hungary, the center-right political party, Fidesz, got 53% of the vote. This translated into 68% of the seats in the parliament under Hungary’s current disproportionate election law. With this supermajority, Fidesz won the power to change the constitution. They have used this power in the most extreme way at every turn, amending the constitution ten times in their first year in office and then enacting a wholly new constitution that will take effect on January 1, 2012.
This constitutional activity has transformed the legal landscape to remove checks on the power of the government and put virtually all power into the hands of the current governing party for the foreseeable future.
The new constitution has attracted a great deal of criticism from the Venice Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe, theEuropean Parliament and the United States. But the Fidesz government has paid no attention.
Under the new constitutional order, the judiciary has taken the largest hit. The Constitutional Court, which once had the responsibility to review nearly all laws for constitutionality, has been killed off in three ways. First, the government expanded the number of judges on the bench and filled the new positions with their own political allies (think: Roosevelt’s court-packing plan). Then, the government restricted the jurisdiction of the court so that it can no longer review any law that has an impact on the budget, like laws pertaining to taxes and austerity programs, unless the law infringes particular listed rights. Finally, the government changed the rules of access to the court so that it will no longer be easily able to review laws in the abstract for their compliance with the constitution. Moreover, individuals can no longer challenge the constitutionality of laws without first going through a lengthy process in the ordinary courts. The old Constitutional Court, which has served as the major check on governmental power in a unicameral parliamentary system, is now functionally dead.
The ordinary judiciary has suffered a similar fate. The government lowered the retirement age for judges from 70 to 62, giving judges only a few months to adjust to their new futures. More than 200 judges will be forced to retire from the bench starting on January 1, including most of the court presidents who assign cases and manage the daily workings of courts. The new law on the judiciary requires that the Supreme Court president have at least five years of Hungarian judicial experience. The current president of the Supreme Court is disqualified because his 17 years of experience as a judge on the European Court of Human Rights do not count. Therefore, he must leave office on January 1 also.
The law on the judiciary also creates a new National Judicial Office with asingle person at the helm who has the power to replace the retiring judges and to name future judges. This person also has the power to move any sitting judge to a different court. A new constitutional amendment – to the new constitution! – will permit both the public prosecutor and the head of this new National Judicial Office to choose which judge will hear each case.
The independence of the judiciary is over when a government puts its own judges onto the bench, moves them around at will, and then selects which ones get particular cases to decide.
The Vice President of the European Commission for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, issued a strongly worded request for information about the new law last week and demanded immediate replies from the Hungarian government. She also strongly urged the government “to ensure . . . that no measure is implemented until doubts about its compliance with EU law are removed.” The government responded by saying all of these changes are improvements and it seems to be going ahead with implementing the new constitutional framework despite the strong caution from Brussels.
In the new constitutional system, the legal supervision of elections has also been changed. Before the last election, the norm was for the five-member Election Commission to be politically diverse and for the government of the day to consult the opposition before nominating candidates. But the rules were changed last year so that each new national election is now accompanied by a new choice of election commissioners. As a result, the existing commissioners were removed from their offices without allowing them to finish their terms and now the Election Commission consists of five members of the governing party.
The new election law specifies the precise boundaries of the new electoral districts that will send representatives to the parliament. But the new districts are drawn in such a way that no other party on the political horizon besides Fidesz is likely to win elections. A respected Hungarian think tank ran the numbers from the last three elections using the new district boundaries. Fidesz would have won all three elections, including the two they actually lost.
Virtually every independent political institution has taken a hit. The human rights, data protection and minority affairs ombudsmen have been collapsed into one lesser post. The public prosecutor, the state audit office and, most recently, the Central Bank are all slated for more overtly political management in the new legal order.
And all of this has happened while the press operates under day-to-day intimidation. A draconian set of media laws created a new media board – staffed only by Fidesz party loyalists with a chair who is appointed by the Prime Minister to a nine-year term. This board can review all public and private media for their compliance with a nebulous standard of political “balance” and has the power to bankrupt any news organization with large fines. It is not surprising that the media have become self-censoring. This new media regime has been severely criticized by the European Commissioner for Communications, among others.
The new constitution also accepts conservative Christian social doctrine as state policy, in a country where only 21% of the population attends any religious services at all. The fetus is protected from the moment of conception. Marriage is only legal if between a man and a woman. The constitution “recognize(s) the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood” and holds that “the family and the nation constitute the principal framework of our coexistence.” While these religious beliefs are hard-wired into the constitution, a new law on the status of religion cut the number of state-recognized churches to only fourteen, deregistering 348 other churches.
In a democracy, the population can “throw the bums out” and replace the government with a different one that can change the policies that do not have public support. But that will be nearly impossible under this constitution. In addition to compromising institutions that are necessary for a free and fair election – like a free press and a neutral election apparatus – the new constitution embeds Fidesz control even if another political party defies the odds and wins an election.
The new constitution makes huge swaths of public policy changeable only by a two-thirds vote of any subsequent parliament. From here on, all tax and fiscal policy must be decided by a two-thirds supermajority. Even the precise boundaries of electoral districts cannot be changed by simple majority vote, but only by a two-third supermajority. If a new government gets a mere majority, policies instituted during the Fidesz government cannot be changed.
That’s not all. The long arm of the current Fidesz government can grab and shake any foreseeable future government through the officials they are now putting into place. The new constitutional order extends the terms of office for the public prosecutor (9 years), the head of the state audit office (12 years), the head of the national judicial office (9 years), the head of the media board (9 years), the head of the budget council (6 years) and more. Each of these positions has been filled with Fidesz party loyalists who will be able to conduct public investigations, intimidate the media, press criminal charges and continue to pack the courts long after the government’s current term is over. Moreover, unless there is a two-thirds vote to replace these new office holders, they can stay in office until such a two-thirds vote can be achieved, which could extend these long terms of office even further.
How do all of these pieces work together? One example will illustrate. The constitution creates a national budget council with the power to veto any future budget that adds to the national debt, which any foreseeable budget will do. The members of the budget council have been chosen by this government for terms of 6 or 12 years and can only be replaced if two-thirds of the parliament can agree on new candidates when their terms are over. Another part of the constitution requires the parliament to pass a budget by March 31 of each year. If the parliament fails to do so, the president of the country can dissolve the parliament and call new elections. When these pieces are put together, the constraints on any future government are clear. A new government will pass a budget – but that budget can be vetoed by Fidesz loyalists so that the budget deadline is missed, and then the president (also named by Fidesz) will call new elections. And this can be repeated until an acceptable government is voted back into power.
The only parties that might replace Fidesz in the current Hungarian landscape are the Socialist Party or, in a real nightmare scenario, the far-right Jobbik. Under laws that preceded Fidesz’s election last year, political parties that are anti-constitutional may be banned. Some have suggested that Fidesz could eliminate Jobbik in this way. In fact, Europe probably would not mind if Jobbik were excluded from public life because other European countries can ban extremist parties also. But what about Fidesz’s primary competition – the Socialists?
According to a proposed constitutional amendment, the crimes of the former communist party will be listed in the constitution and the statute of limitations for prosecuting crimes committed during the communist period will be lifted. The former communist party is branded a criminal organization and the current opposition Socialist Party is designated as their legal successor. It is still unclear, legally speaking, what this amendment means. But it is probably not good for the major opposition party.
The Fidesz government has accomplished this constitutional revolution by legal means after a democratic election. But though Fidesz was democratically elected and has accomplished this program through constitutional change, Hungary is not a constitutional democracy. Instead Hungary is, as Paul Krugman said, sliding into authoritarianism.

Depression and Democracy

It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.
Let’s talk, in particular, about what’s happening in Europe — not because all is well with America, but because the gravity of European political developments isn’t widely understood.
First of all, the crisis of the euro is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.
Specifically, demands for ever-harsher austerity, with no offsetting effort to foster growth, have done double damage. They have failed as economic policy, worsening unemployment without restoring confidence; a Europe-wide recession now looks likely even if the immediate threat of financial crisis is contained. And they have created immense anger, with many Europeans furious at what is perceived, fairly or unfairly (or actually a bit of both), as a heavy-handed exercise of German power.
Nobody familiar with Europe’s history can look at this resurgence of hostility without feeling a shiver. Yet there may be worse things happening.
Right-wing populists are on the rise from Austria, where the Freedom Party (whose leader used to have neo-Nazi connections) runs neck-and-neck in the polls with established parties, to Finland, where the anti-immigrant True Finns party had a strong electoral showing last April. And these are rich countries whose economies have held up fairly well. Matters look even more ominous in the poorer nations of Central and Eastern Europe.
Last month the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development documented a sharpdrop in public support for democracy in the “new E.U.” countries, the nations that joined the European Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not surprisingly, the loss of faith in democracy has been greatest in the countries that suffered the deepest economic slumps.
And in at least one nation, Hungary, democratic institutions are being undermined as we speak.
One of Hungary’s major parties, Jobbik, is a nightmare out of the 1930s: it’s anti-Roma (Gypsy), it’s anti-Semitic, and it even had a paramilitary arm. But the immediate threat comes from Fidesz, the governing center-right party.
Fidesz won an overwhelming Parliamentary majority last year, at least partly for economic reasons; Hungary isn’t on the euro, but it suffered severely because of large-scale borrowing in foreign currencies and also, to be frank, thanks to mismanagement and corruption on the part of the then-governing left-liberal parties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Constitution last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power.
The details are complex. Kim Lane Scheppele, who is the director of Princeton’s Law and Public Affairs program — and has been following the Hungarian situation closely — tells me that Fidesz is relying on overlapping measures to suppress opposition. A proposed election law creates gerrymandered districts designed to make it almost impossible for other parties to form a government; judicial independence has been compromised, and the courts packed with party loyalists; state-run media have been converted into party organs, and there’s a crackdown on independent media; and a proposed constitutional addendum would effectively criminalize the leading leftist party.
Taken together, all this amounts to the re-establishment of authoritarian rule, under a paper-thin veneer of democracy, in the heart of Europe. And it’s a sample of what may happen much more widely if this depression continues.
It’s not clear what can be done about Hungary’s authoritarian slide. The U.S. State Department, to its credit, has been very much on the case, but this is essentially a European matter. The European Union missed the chance to head off the power grab at the start — in part because the new Constitution was rammed through while Hungary held the Union’s rotating presidency. It will be much harder to reverse the slide now. Yet Europe’s leaders had better try, or risk losing everything they stand for.
And they also need to rethink their failing economic policies. If they don’t, there will be more backsliding on democracy — and the breakup of the euro may be the least of their worries.

The New York Times: Magyarország nem alkotmányos demokrácia

Az amerikai lap Magyarország alkotmányos forradalma címmel közölte Kim Lane Scheppele írását a magyar kormány jogi és alkotmányozási lépéseiről.
A Princeton Egyetem professzora megállapítja: a Fidesz 53 százalékos választási eredménnyel jutott 68 százalékos parlamenti többséghez, amelynek birtokában az alkotmány megváltoztatására kapott felhatalmazást. Ennek eredményeként átalakult a jogi környezet, megszűntek a végrehajtó hatalom ellenőrzését szolgáló fékek, és belátható időre a kormánypárt kezébe került gyakorlatilag minden hatalom". Scheppele szerint az új alkotmány a legnagyobb csapást a bírói testületre mérte, kezdve az Alkotmánybíróságtól - amelynek sorait kormánypárti tagokkal bővítették, hatáskörét pedig megnyirbálták, így "funkcionálisan halottá vált" - a bíróságokig, ahonnan több mint 200 bírót kényszerítenek nyugdíjba.
Helyükre az újonnan létrehozott Országos Bírósági Hivatal elnöke nevezhet ki utódokat, valamint jelölheti ki az egyes pereket tárgyaló bírákat. "A bírói testület függetlensége megszűnik, ha a kormány a saját bíráit ülteti a pulpitusra, tetszése szerint mozgatva őket, és maga választja ki, hogy az egyes ügyeket melyik bíró tárgyalja" - szögezte le. Megemlítette, hogy Viviane Reding EU-biztos kemény hangú levélben kért mielőbbi tájékoztatást a fentiek kapcsán.
"Demokráciákban a nép 'kiakolbólíthatja a tökfilkókat', és új kormányt juttathat hatalomra, az pedig megváltoztathatja a lakosság támogatását nélkülöző politikát. Az új alkotmány értelmében azonban ez csaknem lehetetlenné válik... A Fidesz akkor is kézben tartja az ellenőrzést, ha egy másik párt az esélyekre rácáfolva megnyerné a választást" - írta az amerikai professzor, állítását a kétharmados többséget igénylő törvények nagy számával, valamint a választókerületek határainak átrajzolásával támasztva alá.
Scheppele úgy fogalmazott: "a Fidesz demokratikus választások után, törvényes eszközökkel hajtotta végre az alkotmányos forradalmat. Ám jóllehet a Fideszt demokratikus választás juttatta hatalomra, és a fenti programot alkotmánymódosítással vitte véghez, Magyarország nem alkotmányos demokrácia. Ehelyett - Paul Krugman szavaival - a tekintélyelvűség felé sodródik."

2011. december 25., vasárnap

Kis magyar abszurd a svéd sajtóban

A magyar valóság egy ideje alulmúl minden svéd képzeletet. Az itt élők nehen értik, például, hogy egy közeli és mindeddig szimpatikus európai országban az emberek miért nem élnek demokratikus jogaikkal, miért nem veszik komolyan saját szerepüket egy parlamenti választás során. Mint ahogyan az is ködös,miként kerülhet kétharmados hatalomra a választók egyharmada által favorizált pártcsoport, s hogy az ebből kinőtt kormány miért hoz a marionett-képviselők, majd a szereptévesztésben lévő elnök közreműködésével, az európai normákkal szembemenő törvényeket.
Amikor pedig kezdetétt vette Magyarország elnöksége az EU élén, a svéd sajtótól szokatlanul éles bírálatot kapott magyar miniszterelnök, s a svéd lapok nem kímélték őt később sem a magyar félév alatt.
Dagens Nyheter KulturDebatt oldalának rendszeres szerzője, E. Rosenberg, a minap nem csupán azt akarta megmutatni, ami az Új Színház pazar szecesszós épüle előtt, ott az utcán történt október 22-én – a svéd tévéhíradók és turisták által is oly kedvelt Andrássy út közelében – de be is vitte olvasóit a kulisszák mögé.

A lap hétvégi olvasóinak alighanem megakadt a torkán a reggeli kávé, amikor olyan magyar kifejezések svédre fordított megfelelőjét ízlelgették hozzá, mint a 'hátországszínház' (Hinterlandteater) vagy hogy a magyaroknak vissza kellene hódítaniuk országukat és kultúrájukat. 2011-ben? Európa közepén? Kiktől?

Bizonyára nem nagyon hitték, hogy egy Budapest szívében lévő színház igazgatója, aki már 14 éve sikeresen vezeti azt, mind művészileg, mind gazdaságilag – alulmarad egy nyíltan antihumánus, s így a művészettel össze nem egyeztethető elveket valló konkurrenssel szemben, akinek koncepciója rádaásul szakmailag is minősíthetetlen és valós alapot nélkülöző állítások, ígéretek sorát tartalmazza.
A svéd újságolvasók valószínűleg nem értik azt sem, hogy a pályázatokról véleményt alkotni jogosult bizottság színház-szakmai tagjai, akik a társulat s a publikum által is kedvelt korábbi direktornak adtak volna lehetőséget a folytatatásra, miért maradhattak alul a politika képviselőivel szemben. Azt is furcsállhatják, hogy a budapestiek határozott és több módon kifejezett tiltakozása süket fülekre talált a polgármesternél, aki errefelé szokatlan módon, egymaga határozott a színház leendő vezetőjéről. S egyáltalán: a város vezetői honnan vették a bátorságot, hogy művészeti kérdésekben hatalmi szóval érvényesítsék a pártjuk politikai nézeteit vagy érdekeit?...

Noha a legutóbbi választások során a svéd parlamentbe is bejuttattak a szavazók húsz neonacionalista elveket valló képviselőt, ezeket a többi hét párt delegáltjai nem tekintik partnernek a politikai vitákban. Erről már jóval a választási kampányt megelőzően megállapodtak a demokratikus pártok, amint a svéd média szereplői is arról, hogy nem közölnek hirdetéseket semmilyen nacionalista párttól – annak ellenére, hogy ezen döntésükkel sokmilliós bevételekről is lemondtak. 

Hogy ez a nacionalista svéd párt saját favoritját protezsálja az egyik vezető stockholmi színház igazgatói székébe, teljesen elképzelhetetlen. Ha ez az abszurd mégis megtörténne, 
tízezres tiltakozó tömegek jelennének meg a városháza előtt. Már másnap!

Egyelőre viszont, csupán csóválják a fejüket: mi folyik Magyarországon?

Führerstaat Ungarn - Kommentar - Die Welt

Führerstaat Ungarn

In Ungarn kann man beobachten, wie schnell eine Demokratie sich selbst zerstört. Die regierende Fidesz-Partei unter Victor Orban ist offenbar entschlossen, via Zweidrittelmehrheit die Macht, einmal errungen, lange nicht mehr aus der Hand zu geben. Es ist, als sei der Film in den autoritären, antisemitischen 1930er Jahren stehen geblieben und komme nun wieder ins Laufen.
v1.jpg (577×577)
Das neue Mediengesetz, in der Nacht zum Dienstag durch das Parlament gebracht und schon lange zuvor durch zweckmäßige Spitzen- und Spezibesetzung der Apparate vorbereitet, gibt der neuen Nationalen Medien- und Telekommunikationsbehörde weitgreifende antidemokratische Vollmachten. Von Zensur über Beschlagnahme von Dokumenten bis hin zum materiellen Ruin unliebsamer Medien gehört alles dazu, was sich ein autoritäres Regime wünschen mag. Es ist ein Ministerium für Meinungssteuerung und Lobpreis der Macht. Die Spitzenbesetzung besteht aus Parteigängern und Günstlingen des Premiers Victor Orban.
War Österreichs Haider-Zwischenspiel noch Operette, so ist, was sich in Ungarn abspielt, Tragödie. Im Falle Österreich nahm die Europäische Union noch Anstoß und strafte die Alpenrepublik durch Versetzung in die Strafecke. Im Falle Ungarn passiert gar nichts, obwohl der Weg in den autoritären Staat vorgezeichnet ist und wahrhaftig nicht über Nacht begann. Die Freiheit, die Ungarn vor zwei Jahrzehnten für sich und andere errang, geht dahin.
Das Mediengesetz ist entscheidender Teil einer Strategie der Machtgewinnung und -sicherung. Alle 1989/90 eingebauten - und vor dem Eintritt in die Europäische Union gewissermaßen TÜV-geprüften - demokratischen Sicherungen und verfassungsmäßigen Grenzen der Macht werden aus dem Weg geräumt: "Blitzartig", wie Paul Lendvai, der österreichisch-ungarische Kenner der Verhältnisse in dieser Zeitung noch unlängst warnte.
Ungarn ist nicht ohne Schaden an Leib und Seele von der Finanzkrise getroffen worden. Man hatte, Ungarn nicht allein, sich nach 1990 einen guten Tag gemacht, alles auf Kredit in Hartwährung, auf kritische Auseinandersetzung mit dem gulaschkommunistischen System verzichtet, die alten Wunden von 1919 aufgerissen, als der Friede von Trianon von der ungarischen Reichshälfte nur noch Fragmente zurückließ - überwölbt durch Ressentiments gegen West und Ost, Juden und Zigeuner.
Geschichte wiederholt sich nicht - es sei denn doch. Was in Ungarn entsteht, ist der Führerstaat des Victor Orban, skrupellos und machtbewusst. Wie György Konrad einmal bemerkte: "An den Rändern Europas kichert der Wahnsinn."

2011. december 23., péntek

Ungarisches Roulette
Ungarn legt sich mit der EZB an

Mit einem geplanten neuen Notenbankgesetz verärgert Budapest internationale Geldgeber - und muss prompt mit den Folgen kämpfen. Die Wirtschaftslage in Ungarn verschlechtert sich zusehends. von Silviu Mihai, Budapest
Es klang wie ein Warnschuss: In der Nacht zu Donnerstag senkte die Agentur Standard & Poor's das Rating für ungarische Staatsanleihen auf Ramschstatus. Die "Verlässlichkeit und Glaubwürdigkeit der ungarischen Politik" werde zusehends geschwächt, so die Prüfer.
Die Hiobsbotschaft traf Ungarns Regierung unmittelbar vor einer zentralen Entscheidung. Am Freitag sollte ein neues Gesetz durchs Parlament gebracht werden, durch das die Zentralbank des Landes in ihren Kompetenzen beschnitten wird. Notenbankchef Andras Simor, der seit Monaten mit der Regierung im Clinch liegt, sprach von dem Versuch der Regierung, die Zentralbank zu "übernehmen". Kritiker argwöhnen, es sei das Ziel, die Währungsreserven der Notenbank im Umfang von 35 Mrd. Euro anzuzapfen. Die Europäische Zentralbank (EZB) warnte am Donnerstag in scharfen Tönen davor, die Unabhängigkeit der Institution zu untergraben.
Der ungarische Ministerpräsident Viktor Orban Der ungarische Ministerpräsident Viktor Orban
Dieser Versuch könnte Ungarn teuer zu stehen kommen: Eine Delegation der EU und des Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF), die vorige Woche in Budapest eingetroffen war, um die Verhandlungen über einen Notkredit vorzubereiten, hat aus Protest gegen das geplante Gesetz vorzeitig das Land verlassen. In der Regierung stieß der Rückzug auf Verärgerung.
"Der IWF und die EU sind nach Hause gegangen, um auf den Weihnachtsmann zu warten", sagte der Fraktionschef der Regierungspartei Fidesz, Janos Lazar, nach dem Abbruch der Verhandlungen. Ohnehin sind die internationalen Geldgeber in Budapest nicht gern gesehen: Gleich nach seinem Amtsantritt hatte Ministerpräsident Viktor Orban im Gefühl der Stärke die Zusammenarbeit mit dem IWF erst einmal beendet.
Ob sich Ungarns Führung dies auf Dauer leisten kann, ist fraglich: Die offizielle Wachstumsprognose für 2011 wurde Schritt für Schritt von 3,6 auf aktuell ein Prozent reduziert, Wirtschaftsanalysten befürchten noch Schlimmeres. Der Forint setzt seinen Absturz fort, wodurch auch der Bankensektor in Bedrängnis gerät, der überwiegend in westeuropäischem Besitz ist.

2011. december 15., csütörtök

Education Executive Agency & Tax Offices by UNStudio

DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio

Future possibilities
The residual energy of the data center and offices can be used to heat the homes that will be realized in the future in the perimeter of the site.

And last, but not least, the building is designed so that it can be transformed into housing in the future without major structural modifications. Therefore, the locations of elevators, stairs and technical spaces have been carefully considered, and a structural grid of 1,20 m. has been deployed, rather than the conventional office grid of 1,80 m.

The inclusion of diverse passive and active environmental and energy efficient solutions has led to a building which is one of the most sustainable office buildings in the Netherlands.

Education Executive Agency & Tax offices, Groningen, the Netherlands, 2006 – 2011

DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio

Client of the consortium:
Dutch Government Buildings Agency (RGD)

Client UNStudio:
Consortium DUO² (Strukton, Ballast Nedam, John Laing)

Program: Office building (phase A); underground parking (phase B); public city garden, pavilion (phase C)

DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudioDUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio

Amsterdam architects UNStudio have completed a new headquarters for the Dutch national tax offices and the student loan administration in Groningen, the Netherlands. 

DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Called DUO², the 92 metre-tall building has a facade covered in horizontal fins to provide shade and reduce the need for artificial cooling.
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
The project comprises 2,500 work stations, underground parking for 1,500 bicycles and 675 cars and a public park.
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
More about UNStudio on Dezeen »
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Above photograph is by Ewout Huibers.
Photographs are by Ronald Tilleman unless otherwise stated.
Here are some more details from UNStudio:

UNStudio/ Ben van Berkel, with consortium DUO², realizes one of the most sustainable large office buildings in Europe for two governmental offices.

A greener approach to tall buildings in the post-iconic age - The Education Executive Agency and Tax Offices move to one of Europe’s most sustainable offices.
A new, 92 meter tall complex of soft, undulating curves marks the skyline of Groningen. This asymmetric, aerodynamic construction is set amidst small, ancient woodland, sheltering rare and protected species. The project includes the design, construction and financing of two public institutions; the national tax offices and the student loan administration. The commission from the RGD (National Buildings Service) includes, besides the architecture, the management and building maintenance and care of facilities and services for a period of 20 years. Accommodating 2,500 workstations, parking facilities for 1,500 bicycles and 675 cars in an underground garage, the building will be surrounded by a large public city garden with pond and a multifunctional pavilion with commercial functions.
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Above photograph is by Ewout Huibers.
The architecture aims to present these institutions with a softer, more human and approachable profile. Tall buildings are generally associated with mid-twentieth century modernism. Their harsh, businesslike exteriors contain powerful, inaccessible-seeming strongholds. By contrast, the DUO and Tax offices deliberately cloak a commanding public institution in an organic, friendlier and more future-oriented form.
“We paid a great deal of attention to how people would move through the building. The office spaces are designed in such a way that they do not create simple linear corridors leading to dead ends, but instead each corridor has a route which introduces a kind of landscape into the building. You can take endless walks through the building, where there is a great deal of transparency, also towards the surrounding landscape.” Ben van Berkel
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Attainability; a mix of affordable and responsible – reaping material benefits of integral design and construction with a Design Build Finance Maintenance Operate Contract

The governmental office complex is built as part of a far-reaching form of public-private partnership (DBFMO) that is designed to effectuate on a more efficient use of public funds. The design, construction, financing, managing and maintenance of the building was hosted by one consortium consisting of Strukton, Ballast Nedam and John Laing. This consortium won the competition for the project on the basis of a combination of esthetic, technical and financial criteria. UNStudio, as the architect of the project, collaborated with Lodewijk Baljon for the landscape design, Arup for the engineering and Studio Linse as the interior advisor.
The life-cycle approach of a DBFMO contract requires that all relevant experts (designers, lawyers, installation specialists, financial specialists, facility specialists) are involved from the start of the project in order to find the best, most cost effective and environmentally-friendly solutions for the continued use and maintenance of the building. This working methodology stimulates not only creative and innovative ideas, but facilitates a reduction of total costs over the entire contract period compared to the traditional means of contracting. In PPP projects contracts are not awarded to the lowest bidder, but to the party with most effective solutions providing the best value for money.
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Above photograph is by Christian Richters.
“In a PPP-construction you have to consider all the details concerning maintenance and the sustainable use of the building from the very early stages. It is a unique way to gather all the specialists and the end user around the table from the very outset of the project.”
Ben van Berkel

Exemplary sustainability

“The design contains numerous new innovations related to the reduction of materials, lower energy costs and more sustainable working environments. It presents a fully integrated, intelligent design approach towards sustainability.” Ben van Berkel

The project is one of Europe’s most sustainable large new office buildings. The RGD brief prescribed a future-proof building that couples flexibility and sustainability with an esthetic of sobriety. The architectural response to this has been to strive for an all-round understanding of the concept of sustainability, including energy and material consumption, as well as social and environmental factors. Thus the sustainability manifests itself in reduced energy consumption (EPC 0,74), as well as significantly reduced material consumption. Bringing back the floor heights from 3,60 m to 3,30 m resulted in a total reduction of 7,5 m. on the entire building, which also lessens the impact of the building on the surroundings. Both inside and outside the architecture generates a bio-climate that is beneficial to both humans and the local flora and fauna.
DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
Above photograph is by Christian Richters.
All-round architectural sustainability: a sum of many parts.

Sustainability and energy reduction have steered the design of the facade, which contains technical installations that are tailored to be durable and cause minimal environmental impact. The facade concept integrates shading, wind control, daylight penetration and construction in fin-shaped elements. These horizontal fins keep a large amount of the heat outside the building, reducing the requirement for cooling.

Concrete core activation
Another technical feature of the building that contributes to its sustainable character is the combination of concrete core activation and underground long term energy storage. This appreciably reduces the demand for external energy sources.

Individual climate control for each workspace
Creating a healthy, energy efficient interior climate and employee workspace comfort was also an important element in the design. Plenty of natural daylight and adjustable heating, ventilation and access to fresh air for individual workspaces contribute to the comfort of the workspaces throughout the building.

The 11-th floor
A high pressure ventilation system with natural air inflow and outflow via main engineering shafts and the facade grills on the 11th floor reduces the need for artificial ventilation

Building surface: 48.040m² offices, 21.000m² parking, 1.500m² pavilion
Building volume: 215.000m³
Building site: 31.134m²

Credits UNStudio:
UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Gerard Loozekoot with Jacques van Wijk, Frans van Vuure, Lars Nixdorff and Jesca de Vries, Ramon van der Heijden, Alicja Mielcarek, Eric den Eerzamen, Wendy van der Knijff, Machiel Wafelbakker, Timothy Mitanidis, Maud van Hees, Pablo Herrera Paskevicius, Martijn Prins, Natalie Balini, Peter Moerland, Arjan van der Bliek, Alexander Hugo, Gary Freedman, Jack Chen, Remco de Hoog, Willi van Mulken, Yuri Werner, Machteld Kors, Leon Bloemendaal, Erwin Horstmanshof.

DUO and Tax Offices by UNStudio
UNStudio, architecture and interior
Studio Linse, interior
Arup, structure, installations
Lodewijk Baljon, landscaping
Buro van Baar, wayfinding
YNNO, internal logistics
DGMR, acoustics
EFPC, fire prevention
Ingenieursbureau Wassenaar, prefab structure
BTS Bouwkundig Tekenburo Sneek, drawing agency
ISS Nederland B.V, maintenance
Peutz, environmental technology
WUR (Wageningen University & Research centre), ecology
Strukton Bouw en Vastgoed, management and costing
Strukton Betonbouw, construction
Strukton WorkSphere, installations