Hungary before the Elections: Understanding the Hegemony Project of Fidesz

By Seongcheol Kim

Eight years into the rule of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, Hungary offers a particularly fascinating case for a discourse and hegemony analysis that examines how hegemonies institute, redefine, and displace the frontiers defining the social space.[1] What is notable in the discourse of Fidesz is that in the last 20-odd years, a core set of key signifiers or nodal points such as “homeland” or “nation” has been articulated around shifting oppositions and, in the past eight years, has been tied to a systematic attempt to institute a new type of regime – first under the name of the “System of National Cooperation” following the Fidesz landslide of 2010 and then under the internationally catchier heading of an “illiberal state.” The hegemony project of Fidesz, in a sense, takes onto a whole new level of institutional radicality the aim of every hegemonic project: namely, the redefining of the coordinates of the social. As Orbán openly declared in a 2009 speech:

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Autocrats in Outer Space. International Autocratic Linkage and Regime Survival

In this post Alexander Schmotz, Oisín Tansey, and Kevin Koehler argue that dense economic, societal, cultural and diplomatic linkages between autocracies stabilize autocrats in power. They present the results of two recently published papers statistically analyzing the effects of autocratic linkages on regime survival.

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Presidential Elections in Kyrgyzstan – A Democratic Exception in Autocratic Central Asia?

Recent presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan were widely praised as a democratic milestone in the history of the country and the entire region. However, a closer look at assessments by international election observation missions and at events prior to the election discloses numerous shortcomings and irregularities. Patronage networks, financial and administrative resources played a crucial role for electoral success, making the Kyrgyz presidential elections an example of free and competitive, but not fair elections. Instead of further democratization, elections bore testimony to consolidating hybrid regime structures argues Ann-Sophie Gast in this guest contribution to the WZB Democracy Blog.

Statue in the remote Talas region – by Ann-Sophie Gast

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Three Theses on the Czech Election Results

In this analyses of the Czech election results our research fellow Seongcheol Kim argues that the results of the recent Czech parliamentary elections mirror the populism / anti-populism conflict in the Czech party system, while the dramatic decline of previosuly established parties signals a seismic shift in the party system and its central cleavages. 

Andrej Babiš at the ANO press conference on election night (photo by Divíšek Martin for deník.cz).

For background on the election campaign, please see Seongcheol`s previous post here.

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Populism, Anti-Populism and Counter-Populism in the Czech Parliamentary Elections

The upcoming Czech parliamentary elections have seen a discursive shift from a left/right toward a populism/anti-populism conflict and a government without a populist party is unlikely, argues Seongcheol Kim in his latest Blogpost for the WZB Democracy Blog.

ANO campaign banner on a tram in Prague depicting Andrej Babiš & Martin Stropnický. Foto by Martin Fendrych

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The religious foundations of the European Financial Crisis

The European financial crisis has divided European nations. The division runs between north and south and some have even described the division as one between saints and sinners. In this contribution Josef Hien sheds light on the cultural underpinnings of this division and argues that religious foundations are at the heart of this divide. He concludes that a “interdenominational” compromise is necessary in order to overcome the polarized status quo. Weiterlesen

Digital Innovation in Latin America: How Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have been experimenting with E-participation

Overcoming state dependence may be crucial for digital innovations to transform democracy by engaging more citizens in the political process.

The LATINNO Project at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, which investigates democratic innovations that have evolved in eighteen countries across Latin America since 1990, has just completed a study of new digital institutional designs that promote e-participation aimed at improving democracy. This post gives a first insight into the results.

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Trump, Brexit, and a Progressive Awakening in Western Europe?

The recent electoral decline of social democratic parties has sparked a
debate about potential reasons for this development. This debate largely focuses on supposedly declining mainstream left support among the working class. However, in order to fully understand the electoral dynamics of social democratic support, it is crucial to take the preferences of the educated middle class into account. Following Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, parties of the mainstream left necessarily need to provide open, universal and pro-EU platforms to appeal to this group. If they do not, then this can have grave electoral consequences. Recent developments in the Netherlands, France and Germany illustrate this dynamic argues Tarik Abou-Chadi from Humboldt University Berlin.

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