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our European context we use the word ‘the rise’ – the rise of illiberal democracy, the rise of populism – but it is an outdated narrative.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.
The war in Ukraine put many Eastern European countries, among them Hungary, in the hot seat. With the Western world providing strong financial and military support for Ukraine and emphasizing the unlawfulness of the invasion, the allies of Russia must reassess their relationship with Moscow.
Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 by the Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Eastern Opening by the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, economic and diplomatic cooperation between China and Hungary has increased significantly. However, the lack of transparency and the politically infused nature of this cooperation makes Hungary’s relationship with the EU difficult.
The role of the media is more important in politics than it was 20-30 years ago. Political parties and politicians are using the media all around the world to promote themselves, their ideology, and their aims. These actions made media post objective, which means that almost every media outlet is close to a political party, which, of course, doesn’t mean that they’re making propaganda.
In this episode, Leszek Jażdżewski talks with Professor Wojciech Sadurski about democracy, populisms, and their different faces in light of the current crises.