In 2010, in Hungary, a reservoir wall containing the industrial sludge pond of an alumina plant collapsed and more than a million cubic meters of toxic red mud swept across the countryside, through several villages, and into the rivers feeding the Danube. Accidents happen. But this was not a complete surprise.
Given its position at the head of the pack of countries in the region, Hungary was expected to be the first to make the successful transition to capitalism. But today, Hungary has fallen behind many of the other countries in the region in terms of growth, employment, debt, and other economic indicators.
Hungarian environmentalists had been trying to create an authentic Green Party ever since the end of Communism. When they pulled together a new initiative on 2009, they didn't call it a Green Party. Instead, they wanted to transform the entire process of doing politics in the country. The name of the party said it all: Politics Can Be Different.
It was October 1990, and the economic changes were starting to bite. After the Soviet Union cut back oil shipments to Hungary, the government in Budapest dramatically raised the price of gas. In response, taxi drivers and teamsters essentially shut down the country over a three-day period. It was just a taste of what was to come in terms of austerity measures.