Illiberal Democracy and Beyond in Hungary

von Gábor Halmai

In his speech, delivered before an ethnic Hungarian audience at the 25th Bálványos Free Summer University and Youth Camp in Băile Tușnad (Tusnádfürdő), Romania, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proclaimed his intention to turn Hungary into a state that

will undertake the odium of expressing that in character it is not of liberal nature (…). We have abandoned liberal methods and principles of organizing society, as well as the liberal way to look at the world (…). Today, the stars of international analyses are Singapore, China, India, Turkey, Russia (…) and if we think back on what we did in the last four years, and what we are going to do in the following four years, then it really can be interpreted from this angle. We are (…) parting ways with Western European dogmas, making ourselves independent from them (…). If we look at civil organizations in Hungary, (…) we have to deal with paid political activists here. (…) [T]hey would like to exercise influence (…) on Hungarian public life. It is vital, therefore, that if we would like to reorganize our nation-state instead of the liberal state, that we should make it clear, that these are not civilians (…) opposing us, but political activists attempting to promote foreign interests (…). This is about the ongoing reorganization of the Hungarian state. Contrary to the liberal state organization logic of the past twenty years, this is a state organization originating from national interests.[1]

With this statement, Orbán revealed that his ultimate objective is to build his state not on the liberal democratic principles of the European Union, of which Hungary has been a member state since 2004, but rather on national foundations, citing as role models authoritarian regimes like Putin’s Russia and dictatorial governments like China.

In the 2010 parliamentary elections Orbán’s party, Fidesz received more than 50 percent of the popular votes ...

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