Modern Hungary – the Road from Democracy to Authoritarianism: a Historical Retrospective

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In the late 1980s, as a result of the Velvet Revolutions, the political systems of most Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries underwent significant changes. This process also affected the Hungarian Republic, where the change in the social system was more intense and successful than in many other CEE countries.

Hungary, thanks to these processes, distinguished itself as a leader among the CEE countries in achieving significant accomplishments in political and economic transformation. The political system of society underwent significant changes. The one-party regime was replaced with a pluralistic political system based on the Constitution, amended in 1989. A parliamentary-presidential system of governance was introduced, granting the government broad powers and obligating it to ensure conditions for the country's economic and democratic development. A reform of the judicial system was also carried out, and a Constitutional Court was established.

From 1990 to 2010, there was significant liberalization of society, but the achievements of these years were controversial and ambiguous. The commercialization of all spheres of life significantly changed the general cultural context, led to new tensions in relations between different social groups and generations, and to some extent exacerbated the problem of interethnic relations.

Everything changed in 2010 when the FIDESZ-KDNP coalition came to power in the parliamentary elections, gaining a constitutional majority of votes. This right-conservative coalition successfully implemented conservative ideology, skillfully manipulated public consciousness, carried out effective economic reforms, strengthened state administration, and reformed the public sector, directing it towards centralization and the restoration of conservative traditions in the Hungarian state. This was also accompanied by a rollback of democratic governance principles and an intensification of authoritarian tendencies.

As a result of these actions, the right-conservative coalition managed to win the parliamentary elections in 2014, 2018, and 2022. This led to the multiparty system, created as a counterbalance to the one-party totalitarian regime, becoming bipolar with the dominant role of the FIDESZ-KDNP coalition.

Thus, the country with established democratic traditions transformed into a state with an authoritarian government headed by Prime Minister V. Orban, who many in the EU call a dictator.


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How to Cite
Tkach, D. (2024) “Modern Hungary – the Road from Democracy to Authoritarianism: a Historical Retrospective”, Problems of World History, (25), pp. 86–103. doi: 10.46869/2707-6776-2024-25-4.
Author Biography

D. Tkach

Tkach Dmytro – Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of the «KROK» University.


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