Hungary’s right-wing government, since Fidesz’s first landslide victory in 2010 and their subsequent successes in 2014, 2018, and 2022, has been increasingly willing to put cultural issues, particularly gender and LGBT+, at the forefront of its campaigns. Fidesz’s framing of the issue regularly contained the need for children’s protection rather than overt attacks on sexual and gender minorities.
The Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) is a Hungarian organization, which – according to its website – “is the leading talent promotion institution in the Carpathian Basin.” However, it is much more than that. Nowadays, the Mathias Corvinus Foundation offers an immense collection of educational programmes, publications, with a network of businesses and think tanks abroad, having a significant lobby power.
Eszter Nova, lecturer at Cevro Institute in Prague and political commentator, who runs a blog Meanwhile in Budapest, wrote a publication Outlook for Hungary 2023 that further unfolds the above-mentioned developments of the Hungarian political landscape and its possible impacts on 2023.
In the past years, illiberal political regimes emerged in Poland and Hungary. One of the victims to these regimes are media. Freedom and independence of media in those countries are now under pressure from various angles, such as legal regulations and outright political pressure. The joint research of Project: Polska (PL) and 21 Research Centre (HU) is focused on small, rural media outlets and rural society in general.
In early August 2022, Viktor Orbán flew to the United States to attend C-PAC. The main star of the event was Donald Trump, the former president, but Orbán was easily amongst the main attractions. Trump is not the only admirer of Orbán in America: his potentially greatest challenger for 2024, Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida is also a devotee.
During the second decade of the 21st century, liberalization of the media has been significant. By liberalization I don’t mean that liberal voices are more popular than ever, quite the opposite. In Hungary you don’t have to be a hired journalist anymore in order to spread your ideas and opinions on the internet. With the help of social media all you have to do is download the app, sign up and your journey as a political influencer can begin.
On paper, Hungarian abortion policies are much like those of most EU countries: women can terminate their pregnancy on request up until the 12th week and can do so through state-funded institutions. Yet, in reality, the accessibility of abortion in Hungary is only a façade.
On July 23, Viktor Orbán, PM of Hungary, held his annual speech at Tusványos, which has gained international infamy because of one line the Hungarian prime minister used when talking about the difference between the West and Hungary. The line that has received the most international attention is “This is why we have always fought: we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race.”
When we talk about illiberal democracy or populism in our European context we use the word ‘the rise’ – the rise of illiberal democracy, the rise of populism – but it is an outdated narrative. Currently, we are dealing with normalization of illiberal democracy.
There are private solutions, for healthcare, schools, and transport. They are popular or at least coveted. Yet, there is a catch. The state always lurks beneath the surface. Many taxi companies are owned by cronies and have a huge lobbying power. There is a fixed rate and no competition in Budapest.