Hungary in Focus

The past decade has seen Hungary, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the helm, on course to become one of the most substantial threats to democracy and rule of law in the European Union today. In increasingly polarised Hungary, political divisions have come to represent the gaping divide between open and closed society.

Since his election victory in 2010, Orbán and his right-wing Fidesz party have set Hungary on a path contrary to EU values, with the ultimate aim of making the country, as Orbán himself put it, an ‘illiberal democracy’. EU funds are channeled to enrich Orbán’s inner circles while public jobs are used to shore up support for the regime. Critics of the government find themselves on the wrong end of hiked taxes and torrential government propaganda. In response, Hungary’s middle class and political opposition are fleeing the country in droves.

While Orbán has gone further than any other leader in the EU to unpick the stitches of democratic society, Hungary is not an anomaly. Orbán has become the figurehead of far-right, anti-EU forces. September 2018 signaled a potential turning point, as the European Parliament voted through the damning report spearheaded by Green MEP Judith Sargentini. The subsequent triggering of Article 7, the EU’s infringement procedure against member states which have violated fundamental rights, may be a significant step but serious action could well be blocked by Hungary’s allies. In this focus, we shine a spotlight on Hungary, hearing from diverse and critical voices about the reality on the ground and what this means for Europe.

Articles in this focus

Stopping the Domino Effect: the EU Response to Hungarian Authoritarianism

The long-overdue triggering of Article 7 is one of the EU’s last shots at saving rule of law in Hungary and across Europe.

EN
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How Orbán Manipulates Markets to Suppress Hungary’s Opposition

In Viktor Orbán’s self-styled illiberal democracy, power is maintained through patronage and cronyism built around public jobs and EU money.

EN
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Tough Way Forward for Polarised Hungary

Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz were delivered to victory by an unfair system, media manipulation, and attacking their enemies. Opposition failure made it too easy for them.

EN
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Harassing the Poor: Orbán’s Fight Against the Homeless

Since October 2018, it has been illegal to live in the street in Hungary. Social anthropologist and housing rights activist Tessza Udvarhelyi explains why homeless people are such an easy target for populist politicians, and how the newest measures humiliate those who cannot afford a place to live.

EN
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The Economics of Fear: How Orbán Profits from Insecurities

By playing upon fears linked to social insecurities and loss of national identity, as well as threats to national security, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán seeks to position himself as the sole protector of his nation.

ENHUPL
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The Population Was “Frozen”: Why Hungarians Started Migrating

An interview examining the driving forces and effects of changing attitudes to migration in Hungary.

EN
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Here in Budapest, Where We Belong

Why is Hungary’s Central European University under threat? One of its professors explains what’s going on.

DEEN
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