Lasse SkyttMar 28, 2022
Why Viktor Orbán's Hungary Matters
New Europe Book 2022
On Sunday April 3rd, Hungarians decide whether to elect Viktor Orbán and his special form of eurosceptical "illiberal democracy" to a fourth consecutive term in office as war rages on their northeastern border.
Since he returned to power in 2010, Orbán has established a new style of government that is hard to capture with standard political vocabulary. In previous podcasts, András Körösényi opted for plebiscitary leader democracy, Gábor Scheiring for authoritarian capitalism, and Tímea Drinóczi and Agnieszka Bień-Kacała for illiberal constitutionalism. Whatever term best explains it, Orbánism has attracted a fan base among national-conservatives globally: most prominently Donald Trump's intellectual outriders and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
In his new edition of Orbanland: Why Viktor Orbán's Hungary Matters (New Europe Books, 2022), Lasse Skytt - a Danish journalist who has lived in provincial Hungary since 2013 - investigates what is uniquely Hungarian about Orbanism and what is just a more politically efficient channelling of the global reaction against liberalism and globalisation. He writes: "Through understanding what is going on in Hungary - and why - perhaps we will be able to predict how the current polarisation might shape the future of both sides of the Atlantic''.
*The authors' own book recommendations are: After Europe by Ivan Krastev (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) and Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant (WH Allen, 2021).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors (a division of Energy Aspects).