György Schöpflin

is Hungarian MEP (Fidesz-EPP) and former Jean Monnet Professor of Politics, University College London. His publications include: Politics in Eastern Europe 1945-1992, 1993; Nations, Identity, Power, 2000; and The Dilemmas of Identity, 2005.


In November 2006, Eurozine published an article by Thomas von Ahn analyzing the causes of the demonstrations in Hungary the previous month. Among other things, von Ahn argued that Hungarian opposition (Fidesz) leader Viktor Orbán was operating a populist strategy that sought to undercut parliamentary procedures. Here, György Schöpflin, MEP for Hungary (Fidesz-EPP) responds that von Ahn has uncritically reproduced the spin-doctoring of the Hungarian Left, part of whose tactic is to exaggerate the involvement of the far-Right in the opposition. And in his critique of political instrumentalization of history, Von Ahn is mistaken, argues Schöpflin, in seeking to distinguish between a history that is instrumentalized and a history that is not.

Nationhood, modernity, democracy

Manifestations of national identity in modern Europe

The history of modern nation building suggests that the authority of the state must be grounded in the common cultural and ethnic values of its citizens. In the present day, however, state power is eroded by the decline of party politics and effects of globalization. In this context, argues the Hungarian MEP, cultural diversity, articulated as ethnic identity, will find ever stronger expression. Small states are more exposed to external influences and need stronger barriers to protect their cultural norms. It would help, he says, if the larger states practised a measure of self-restraint and tried to understand the needs of smaller communities.

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