The re-election of Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party in the April 2018 national parliamentary elections in Hungary has reinstated pressure on democracy in the European Union as it has reinforced a leader who has been systematically curbing political freedoms and civic liberties ever since in power. While such developments in Poland have quickly prompted criticism and action from the EU institutions, the democratic backsliding in Hungary could unfold without major obstacles since 2010. In their guest contribution, Zsuzsanna Végh and Malisa Zobel argue that Orbán’s Christian democratic allies in Germany, the CDU/CSU, bear a particular responsibility in the process: their continued reluctance to set and enforce red lines further facilitates the dismantling of Hungarian democracy.
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. 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: