The economist Gyula Jobbágy (b. 1953) is a former student and teacher at the Karl Marx University of Economic Sciences (Marx Károly Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem, or MKKE). In the late 1970s, as the leader of the university club, he organized numerous political debates and tried to establish an independent student organization to serve as an alternative to the Hungarian Communist Youth League (Magyar Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség, or KISZ). In 1981, the party leadership of the university forced him to emigrate.
Jobbágy graduated in 1976 and found work as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Scientific Socialism and from this time also led the university’s Közgáz-klub. Club life became more intensive and eventful under his direction: important political officials held lectures, concerts were organized, and banned films were shown. There was great interest in the club from both inside and outside of the university. Initially, Jobbágy got along well with the party leaders at the university. He remembered in an interview conducted in 2004 that the party secretary asked him to organize the annual May Day celebrations, instead of the KISZ secretary.
This changed radically in 1981, when Jobbágy began to organize an alternative, independent university forum. From the perspective of party leaders, the Meeting of Students from Universities and Colleges in Budapest (Budapesti Egyetemisták és Főiskolások Találkozója, or BEFŐT) represented an opportunity to unite and institutionalize the dissident students. They saw the danger of this initiative and their reaction to it arrived quickly.Before the meeting of BEFŐT, which was scheduled to take place on 21 March 1981, Gyula Jobbágy was charged with anti-state conspiracy, propagation of anti-Soviet ideas, and cooperation with members of the Polish Solidarity movement. Political leaders wanted to fire Jobbágy, threatening that he would never get another job as an economist or teacher in Hungary. Finally, he was forced to emigrate with the “help” of a scholarship to study in Canada. Jobbágy recalled that the secret police awaited him there in Canada and knew everything about him. In Canada, Jobbágy taught political science at a university in Toronto. Although he enjoyed living in Canada, he was nevertheless homesick. Jobbágy was rehabilitated in 1991.
- Budapest, Hungary
- Huhák, Heléna
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