Hungary

  • Burwell Quoted in Newsweek on Hungary's Voting Rights in European Parliament


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  • In Defense of Orbán

    An emotionally charged debate has resurfaced about the nature of Hungarian democracy in the wake of the ruling Fidesz party’s victory in parliamentary elections in April. While it is legitimate to have a well-reasoned and honest dialogue about Hungary’s current political landscape, a proper understanding of real-life events can only occur by sticking to the facts and avoiding sweeping statements informed by political bias.

    Fundamental rights and freedoms were respected overall throughout the voting period; moreover, Hungary’s current legal framework for voting procedures also provides an adequate basis for democratic elections.

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  • Cohen Quoted in Newsweek on Hungary-Russia Relations


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  • Populists-1, Globalists-0

    Hungary forges a path for illiberal democracies

    Fourteen years after Hungary joined the European Union—a celebrated and significant milestone for the post-Communist nation—the country’s deviation from the EU’s shared principles of democracy and freedom is both a source for concern and a warning sign for others following suit.

    On April 8, Hungary re-elected Viktor Orbán to his third consecutive term as prime minister. Despite a record turnout of approximately 70 percent in this year’s election, Orbán and his far-right Fidesz party managed to win 67 percent (133) of the seats in Hungary’s 199-seat parliament. By obtaining this two-thirds majority, the seemingly unstoppable leader has secured his ability to make at-will constitutional changes without opposition support, continuing his reign of power.

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  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Even If Viktor Orbán Loses Sunday, Hungarian Democracy Is Still In Trouble

    Six weeks ago, the ruling conservative-nationalist Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was delivered a stunning defeat. The southern city of Hódmezővásárhely—population, roughly 45,000—had been governed by Fidesz mayors since 1990. The party’s candidate this time was projected to win handily, by about twenty points. Yet, that was approximately the margin of victory for independent Péter Márki-Zay. The forty-five-year-old Márki-Zay—a devout Catholic, political conservative, father of seven—defeated Fidesz’s odds-on favorite for mayor Zoltan Hegedus, in the hometown of János Lázár no less, the man who heads Orbán’s office. “We want to get rid of the big boys bullying the whole class,” said Márki-Zay after his remarkable win. He has street cred. Márki-Zay used to be a member of Fidesz.

    What does it mean when the pitchforks are out for the populists?

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  • Why Is Hungary Blocking Ukraine’s Western Integration?

    For the first time since the Maidan revolution, Ukraine’s road to the transatlantic community is being actively blocked not only by Russia but by an EU and NATO member state as well: Hungary. While Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been a vocal critic of sanctions and is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest allies within the EU, Hungary has generally followed the NATO and EU mainstream in supporting Ukraine politically. That has changed, however, since the adoption of a controversial education act in Ukraine this autumn, which Orbán’s government objects to—but his argument seems more of a pretext to cover up the real cause.
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  • Eastern Europe’s Illiberal Trends Bode Badly for Ukraine

    A recent increase in illiberal trends in a number of Eastern European countries threatens to erode support for Ukraine in the region. Just as important, it may lead to disillusionment inside Ukraine, where reformers have drawn on the region’s democracy building experience as guidance for Ukraine’s own reforms.

    Immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries launched profound pro-market, pro-democratic, and pro-European transformations, quickly becoming members of NATO and the European Union. These young EU members were a source of inspiration for Ukraine’s pro-European activists and reformers at a time when Ukraine was perceived as “stuck in transition”—captured in the vicious cycle of an oligarchic economic model and corrupt political decision-making. Following the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine made important progress in energy pricing, procurement, and increased public service transparency by introducing electronic declarations, but is still striving to catch up in areas like the rule of law and protection of property rights.

    But Eastern Europe may no longer serve as a model for Ukraine’s reforms: some of these countries’ own democratic institutions are now under threat.

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  • Just How Much Influence Does the Kremlin Have in Ukraine, Georgia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic?

    In a handful of Central and Eastern European countries, governments and the media have been slow and ineffective in countering the Kremlin’s propaganda and disinformation. The best defense? An active, engaged civil society.

    Those were some of the findings of the Kremlin Influence Index (KII), a report released in mid-May that analyzed the Russian government’s ability to affect the media environments in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Georgia.

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  • From Russia with Hate: The Kremlin’s Support for Violent Extremism in Central Europe

    In 2016, the mayor of Ásotthalom, a small Hungarian town close to the country’s southern border, celebrated the opening of Gagarin Street with an obelisk to Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin and a speech about Russia’s greatness. The mayor was László Toroczkai, an extremist politician who serves as the vice president of the far-right Jobbik party; he is known for having organized vigilante groups to beat up refugees and banned Muslims and gay people from his village.

    A high-level diplomatic guest attended the event: the leader of the Russian Consulate to Hungary. This case raises two questions. First, why did a far-right politician who had previously been proud of his anti-communism celebrate a hero of the Soviet Union? Second, why was a Russian diplomat openly legitimizing a controversial politician?

    The short answer: Moscow sees the advantage of such “friendships” and invests in them.

    When it comes to Russian efforts to incite violence, one usually thinks of the “little green men” in Crimea, or Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine. But Political Capital has conducted an extensive research project on Russian actors and hate groups in Central Europe, and has found that Moscow built up diplomatic, political, and sometimes financial ties to violent organizations in Central and Eastern Europe as well, though those activities have received much less international attention.

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  • Gedmin in the Hill: Despite Differences, GOP Should Defend Soros in Hungary


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