The Hungarian Illiberal Democracy


Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proclaims the illiberal Hungarian state in 2014 (photo: MTI).

Since coming to power in 2010, the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has systematically dismantled the liberal democracy built in Hungary following the collapse of communism and established in its place an illiberal democracy (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State).

This hybrid political system has preserved many of the fundamental elements and attributes of liberal democracy: free elections; independent opposition parties; the rule of law; observance of the human and civil rights of all citizens; and respect for civil liberties—the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly and, on a practical level, the media.

The semi-authoritarian régime established in Hungary—the first to emerge within the European Union—also has the following general and specific traits that within the country’s present political context are indicative of illiberal democracy:

Manipulates elections and state institutions in order to preserve political power. See:

National Assembly Election System

2014 National Assembly Elections

Crunching the Election Numbers

The Budget Council

Establishes legal, institutional and economic framework to stifle independent media. See:

Media Laws

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority

Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA)

The Big Gun Swings into Action

Black Screen of Protest

A Few Thousand Malcontents

The Demise of People’s Freedom 

Uses powerful internal-security force for political purposes. See:

The Counter Terrorism Center

Marching to Praetoria

The Dubious Plot

The Dubious Plot (2)

Uses mass mobilization as show of force. See:

Pro-Government Peace March Demonstrations

Not with a Whimper

The Soft, White Underbelly

First Peace March (photo gallery)

Sixth Peace March (photo gallery)

Impugns and obstructs the operations of non-governmental organizations. See:

The Orbán Government and EEA-Norway Grants

Invasion of the HomoVikings

Slaying the Gentle Giant

See: entire article.

The main objective of illiberal democratic systems such as that currently functioning in Hungary under the leadership of Prime Minister Orbán appears to be to concentrate power as much as possible within the formal parameters of democracy. The rise of this type of system, which also exists in Russia and Turkey and is under formation in Poland as well, poses a significant threat to the unity and political stability of the liberal-democratic European Union in particular and to the global strength and influence of liberal democracy in general.


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