Fidesz’s constitutional counter-revolution has reversed the process of democratization begun in Hungary in 1989. Seeking reasons for Hungary’s ‘backsliding’, Gábor Halmai argues that democratic culture is more crucial than formal legality to guaranteeing rule of law. Hungary challenges the EU’s ability to prevent illiberal democracies emerging in its midst.
Towards an illiberal democracy
Hungary’s new constitution contradicts European democratic standards on numerous counts. It allows the current government to set in stone its economic and social policy; it excludes other nationalities living within Hungary while entitling “ethnic” Hungarians beyond its borders; and, most starkly anti-democratically, it undermines the independence of regulatory institutions ranging from the national bank to the constitutional court and media.