Title of Presentation or Performance

Closing the Democratic Door: The Rise of Fidesz and Destruction of Competitive Democracy in Hungary

Major

Political Science

Type of Submission

Oral Presentation

Type of Submission (Archival)

Event

Area of Study or Work

Political Science

Expected Graduation Date

2022

Location

CNS E101

Start Date

4-9-2022 11:15 AM

End Date

4-9-2022 12:15 PM

Abstract

Autocratization is a phenomenon that is occurring across the world. Many political scientists worry about the rapid acceleration of this trend and what it could mean for the health of democracy worldwide. In Hungary, autocratization has been in full swing for over a decade. With the rise of the populist right wing Fidesz into government, the country has experienced significant erosion of its democratic institutions and decimation of its system of democratic competition. How have such changes been able to occur in a country that appeared to have a functioning democracy for two decades? This paper argues that Fidesz was able to capitalize on economic and political crises during the late 2000s to come to power. It also argues that Fidesz was able to exploit weaknesses in the institutional structures that were established during Hungary’s democratic transition in the late 1980s to consolidate power and erode democratic competition. The analysis shows how the pro-democracy actors of the National Roundtable unintentionally created and supported institutions that were vulnerable to capture by autocratic populists. An analysis of the political ideology and methodologies of Fidesz demonstrates how the party, during moments of crisis, was able to manipulate popular sentiments and political institutions in order to lock in its political hegemony. The paper shows how ambitious democratic efforts during transitional moments can paradoxically result in the rise of populist autocratic regimes.

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Apr 9th, 11:15 AM Apr 9th, 12:15 PM

Closing the Democratic Door: The Rise of Fidesz and Destruction of Competitive Democracy in Hungary

CNS E101

Autocratization is a phenomenon that is occurring across the world. Many political scientists worry about the rapid acceleration of this trend and what it could mean for the health of democracy worldwide. In Hungary, autocratization has been in full swing for over a decade. With the rise of the populist right wing Fidesz into government, the country has experienced significant erosion of its democratic institutions and decimation of its system of democratic competition. How have such changes been able to occur in a country that appeared to have a functioning democracy for two decades? This paper argues that Fidesz was able to capitalize on economic and political crises during the late 2000s to come to power. It also argues that Fidesz was able to exploit weaknesses in the institutional structures that were established during Hungary’s democratic transition in the late 1980s to consolidate power and erode democratic competition. The analysis shows how the pro-democracy actors of the National Roundtable unintentionally created and supported institutions that were vulnerable to capture by autocratic populists. An analysis of the political ideology and methodologies of Fidesz demonstrates how the party, during moments of crisis, was able to manipulate popular sentiments and political institutions in order to lock in its political hegemony. The paper shows how ambitious democratic efforts during transitional moments can paradoxically result in the rise of populist autocratic regimes.