Hungary’s liaison with the Kremlin has turned the economic “Eastern Opening” into the construction of a full-blown illiberal democracy. This goes hand in hand with Russia’s growing leverage over Hungary with respect to economic as well as soft power.
Orbán tries to destroy Germany’s positive image in Central Eastern Europe, depicting Germany as the capital of the decadent, liberal, pro-immigration EU that is doomed to fail. Tolerating such a behaviour would be a huge long-term strategic mistake for Germany.
Viktor Orbán and his closest allies have taken control of most of the Hungarian media. Journalists at loyal outlets are expected to closely follow instructions from the state apparatus; in exchange, they receive advertising money from government institutions.
In Hungary, NGOs are now required to register as “civic organisations funded from abroad” if they receive financial support from a foreign source. The government is trying to delegitimise any organisation that criticises certain government policies, says Veronika Móra.
In April 2017, a series of demonstrations took place in Budapest against an amendment to the Higher Education Act. They were organised by mostly social media-based groups, but they differed in several aspects from the demonstration culture that has been the norm in Hungary in recent decades.
Two years ago, the Hungarian government began to criminalise asylum seekers and migrants with clear political motivations. Within a few months, their initial verbal aggression and hate campaign targeting refugees had developed into actual legislative amendments which violated refugees’ rights.
The attack on CEU is one in a series of attempts to eliminate the so-called enemies of illiberal democracy. The government has manufactured a fear-inducing narrative by inventing an imaginary enemy threatening the people of Hungary.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to access public interest data in Hungary. Not only does Mayor Lőrinc Mészáros fund Hungary’s propaganda machinery, he is also believed to manage the secret wealth of the Orbán family.
Europe seems to face a more immediate threat than Le Pen. It comes from a central European country whose governing party belongs to the most mainstream European party, the European People’s Party, Hungary.
On April 4th 2017, the Hungarian government passed amendments which are obviously directed against the renowned Central European University (CEU), founded by George Soros. In our feature, we collect articles on Orbán’s attack on academic freedom.