Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski
Central Europe: Regional Overview (Magdalena Solska)
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Central Europe: Regional Overview
The Nations in Transit report of Freedom House (NIT) in 20171 ranked Hungary at the lowest position among Central European countries and its performance deteriorated according to every possible criterion during the rule of Alliance of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) and its minor coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP). The country is no longer classified as a consolidated democracy but as a semiconsolidated democracy, together with Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. According to the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) of 2018, Hungary is the only Visegrad country classified as a defective democracy with the lowest score among the EU member states.2 Both indices interpret the policy changes in Hungary as leading to democratic breakdown and an outright system change.
With the governing parties’ ever-growing media dominance, an increasingly uneven political playing field, and the misuse of public resources for political and private purposes, Hungary’s political system inches further away from constitutional and liberal democracies and closer toward hybrid regimes in the region.3
Hungary also has the longest ruling right-wing populist government. The constitutional majority of parliamentary seats achieved in 2010 allowed the coalition to change the constitution at will. As mentioned by Dániel Hegedűs in the chapter on Hungary, the so-called “fourth amendment” to Hungary’s Fundamental Law introduced in 2013 contained a number of questionable restrictions on freedom of speech, the scope of the Constitutional Court’s power to review...
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