On 8 April 2018, Hungarians head to the polls. Despite twelve years in office, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is running again. Over the past decade, he has rebuilt the Hungarian state in the image of his Fidesz party, he dominates the media landscape, he has rewritten the constitution, and the supreme court has been packed with loyal judges. Despite (or because?) of all this, Orbán’s party is ahead in the polls. So, are Hungarians satisfied with the work of the government?

Supporters argue that Fidesz helps ordinary working families, has cut taxes, and reduced government debt. What’s even more important to many Hungarians is that Viktor Orbàn presents himself as a strong man defending Hungary’s interests against the EU. More than 1,300 infringement cases have now been initiated by the EU against Hungary. And, when it comes to the controversial issue of redistribution of refugees according to EU quotas, Hungary has stubbornly refused to give way.

So far, this approach seem to have had few real consequences for Hungary. Over 4% of Hungarian Gross National Income comes from EU funding, and Hungary remains one of the biggest net recipients in the EU. Yet, despite calls at the national level in some Member States to cut off EU money to Hungary over the refugee quota row, there seems to be little appetite for this in the European Commission.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Ralph, who argues that liberal democracy is always preferable to the so-called “illiberal democracy” championed by Fidesz in Hungary. Is he right?

To get a reaction, we put Ralph’s comment to András Fekete-Györ, a Hungarian opposition politician and leader of the Momentum Movement political party. What would he say?

I agree with Ralph. I also prefer a liberal democracy rather than an authoritarian one, as we have in Hungary. The thing is, we have the framework of a democracy, but the institutions are not filled with the right content. By that I mean that many important posts in state institutions are occupied by party supporters instead of experts. Hungary is increasingly looking more like the system in Russia or Turkey, rather than those of our European partners. This is very painful for us young Hungarians. We moved, worked and studied in the EU. The European Union is in our DNA and we want to turn Hungary into a European country again.

To get another perspective, we also put Ralph’s comment to Jan Niklas Engels, the office manager of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Budapest. What would he say?

… In Hungary there are many political parties and also a separation of powers. However, since 2010, the current government has had a two-thirds majority, and this power has been used to implement a lot of changes very quickly. For example, in the Hungarian Parliament there is now the possibility of speeding up legislative procedures so that laws can be introduced and enacted within a few days. Opposition politicians complain that they have too little time to scrutinise the new law, and that discussion in Parliament and the time for effective public debate is then kept very short. They also complain that many important positions in Hungary’s political institutions are now occupied by party members, and therefore the system of checks and balances no longer works properly.

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Milan, who argues that the reason Orbàn keeps getting elected is because he represents the people’s will. What would Jan Niklas Engels say? Does he agree Hungarian democracy is working?

In the upcoming Hungarian elections on 8 April there are 35 parties running, including active opposition parties, which all have very different policies. Therefore, voters have many options to choose from. However, one has to ask whether elections are all that are needed for a democracy to function properly.

At the last election in 2014, the vote was observed by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe], which was invited to do so by the Hungarian Government. The final report stated that the governing parties had an ‘improper advantage’ due to restrictive election laws, biased media coverage, and a lack of clear lines between party political and government work. I would say this situation has not changed as far as the elections this year are concerned.

However, it must also be said that, above all, Orbán’s position on refugees is broadly popular with the public. But because of the unfair advantages he has, other parties have a much harder time clarifying their positions. For example, we know from surveys that many Hungarians consider health issues to be much more important than immigration. But, in the election campaign, the topic of migration dominates.

How would András Fekete-Györ respond to the same question?

Democracy in Hungary is grey, rather than black or white. Therefore, we cannot definitely say one way or the other. For example, we clearly have pluralism, as a political movement like mine may exist in Hungary. Yet there are clear limits.

For example, yesterday we received five minutes of airtime on public service television for the first time ever, despite having existed for 15 months. For the first time, a Momentum member was invited onto television, which is funded by the public. So, you can participate, but you only get five minutes of airtime a year. In the elections, we will see if there will be fraud. We will keep this in mind. The problem is more about bogus parties founded by Fidesz and now on the electoral lists. That is problematic!

Is democracy broken in Hungary? Do people have a meaningful choice? Are too many institutions under government control? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to experts and policymakers for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – noppasin wongchum; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Engels: (c) FES

92 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Racist people like them should be out of EU

    • avatar

      They are racist because they want to protect their Nation & Christian heritage ?

    • avatar

      Religions are a thing of the past. Middle age people. I see you are racist too

    • avatar
      Edvárd Antlfinger

      Oh come on. That sounds pretty much racist, doesn’t that?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Inappropriate and inaccurate playing of the race card is the recourse of the dotard.

  2. avatar

    Hungary is one of the few Nation States in the EU that still has democracy and follows the will of ‘the people’. to suggest otherwise of the most idiotic questions ever asked on this page.

    • avatar
      Luc Sabbe

      Democracy is the will of the people. But also the people can make mistakes. Many dictators, who lateron destroyed their country were elected democratically.

    • avatar

      You cant be serious

    • avatar


  3. avatar

    First: is democracy not about elections? Who is the elected president in Hungary? I believed that hungarians have to elect their president, not europeans from other countries.
    You already have an not even hidden opposite opinion about the hungarian government and you bring also the comments of two moderators also against Orban, not even one defending him.
    Your problem is that you are not democratic, if something does not suit you then you think there is a problem, you must learn to accept other opinion than your is.

  4. avatar

    The rule of law is the principle that no one is exempt from the law, even those who are in a position of power. The rule of law can serve as a safeguard against tyranny, because just laws ensure that rulers do not become corrupt. Aristotle.Tutor of the 13-year-old , Alexander (the future Alexander the Great).

    • avatar

      The rule of law is set by the elected leaders of a Nation, not by an unelected European politburo in Brussels.

  5. avatar

    It is one of the few who has a democracy and not a puppet of the unelected in Brussels

  6. avatar

    Currently its the most free working democracy in Europe where public servants serve the best interest of their country and people who elected them, and do not bow to foreign officials pushing things that may not be good for them.
    Thats fair isnt it
    I believe a lot of European citizens are sad their governments are not similar.

    There can be unilateral goals and there can be specific need goals of each country.

    It would be sad and undemocratic for things to be the same. And forced that way. That is a form of Totalitarianism.

    Nothing good has every come from force or too much of the same thing without diversity.

    Hungary not accepting refugee quotas isnt an attack on diversity, just an attempt to stop a particular movement of stupidity that would ultimatly eradicate a small country.

    Hungry is also full of gypsys and other races which have intergrated to work together.
    So hungarians cannot be called out as racist.

    • avatar

      It is not only about the refugees. Have you read the article?

    • avatar

      @Ondra Migrants, not refugees.

    • avatar

      The point is that democracy it·s not about people. ;) 😎

    • avatar

      98% of voters that cared voted against refugee settlement, the ones that didnt turn up had a democratic mechanism to vito this, they did not take it, when you do that you send your vote towards the winning outcome.. after sleeping through a referendum the same ppl had a rite to take to massive demonstrations 🤗

      Unlike the Croatian government ex communists stance on not offering a referendum on the question of ratification of the Istanbul Convention, after 80,000 people took to the streets against this and calling for a referendum was ignored because the government is the well paid slave child of EU parliament antics to colonialise smaller populated nations ignoring the will of its people

      Here is a picture of last weekends demenstration in Croatia which the EU paid slave servant media deamed was 5,000 people,
      It is well know that this square in Zagreb takes up to 100,000 people

      Is this country a free democratic state 🤗

      In well paid slave EU majority totalitarian media were these pictures in your face, or you busy with fake news that weekend..


    • avatar

      my last response was to the man that addressed a post to Michelle Soric.. seems he deleted his comment after my response 🤗 slave or free person, maybe just a well paid media machine

    • avatar

      I am a Hungarian – and yes, it is much more of a democracy than many western-eu countries

    • avatar

      how can you compare it?
      Who owns most of media in Hungary?

    • avatar

      @Gabriella I hope you are just joking.

    • avatar

      @Ondra Western media companies, why do you ask? Media is part of democracy, come here and create a nespaper; even #Soros has no interest. So come and do it. 7500 perhaps will pay.

    • avatar

      Nowadays democracy is the will of lefties, all others are racists or nazis. And for this will no election is neccesarry.

  7. avatar

    I don’t see how giving protection to Hungarian citizen who are demanding protection is undemocratic. Undemocratic is the EU putting business, corporation and trade above and at the expense of EU citizens. If the EU wants migrants and refugees and EU citizens do not, how is the EU democratic? The EU is more authoritarian than democratic. It is our money you are spending and when enough people wake up to that fact you will see a new kind of EU citizen.

  8. avatar

    Ιs the democracy broken in Greece ?? What is the diference if Tsipras does the same thing like Orban one is communist the other one is far right ..

    • avatar

      …which is actually the same thing.

    • avatar

      far right? giving the seniors 30€ worth of coupons and gifting ham for easter to their voters? nope he is as communist as his “teachers” were.

    • avatar

      Βοth they trying to handle the justice the press and the independed institutions

  9. avatar

    Just in Hungary ? lol democracy doesn’t exist anymore cause the votes are manipulated everywhere. wild capitalism and warmongers thats what he have in the world today

    • avatar

      Capitalism created everything around you, would you give it all up ?

    • avatar

      yes and wars and starvation an mind control and corruption and lobbies and banks that lend what they dont have the elites and pharmaceutical companies that are in the business of creating pacientes s want me to keep on going

    • avatar

      Joaquim M Pinto Then why are you on a capitalist created social media format on a capitalist crated internet using a capitalist created electronic device powered by a capitalist created energy grid while refreshing yourself with capitalist provided food & water ? I doubt very much you could live one day without Capitalism.

    • avatar

      Why don’t you live in North Korea then? It’s kinda not capitalist or Cuba? Not like you can’t move to that paradise?

    • avatar

      Lol small minds flat table arguments. Did I tell you I’m communist? Does the troll job pays you well

    • avatar

      @Ivan I’m living in the world water and food are not provide by a capitalistic way of living we could talk about nestle privatisation of water or Monsanto poisoning all a fruit of capitalism but darker is what underneath all this take overs. Eduardo Galeano says “the fact that you don’t see the size of your prison doesn’t mean you’re not in jail” And all the things that you described were invented during a capitalism era doesn’t mean they couldn’t be invented in other system era. The first in space weren’t the americans. Regarding my hability of survival I can a sure you that I won’t have starvation in my life. I have a thing call land and guess what no chemicals. Just because a system work for some doesn’t mean is a good system. And this one will be replaced for another that’s the way of life. Send my regards to tory Land

    • avatar

      @Joaquim They tried feeding the population without capitalism in Socialist Russia which lead to 6 million dead Ukrainians as part of its genocidal socialist program that killed a further 20 million of its own people & Mao’s Great Leap Forward ‘killed 45 million in four years while at the same time capitalism lifted over a billion people out of poverty. People do not need theories and platitudes to show them which is best for them and their families, a brief look at history will tell them all they need to know about socialism..

      South Africa is the next Socialist nightmare to follow the failed dogma of Marx and when South Africa falls the whole of Africa will be heading for the capitalist West.

      Socialism is a disease for any Nation that follows it.


    • avatar

      Lol capitalism doesn’t? I don’t know why you insist in talking about comunism I don’t care about comunism. The system that we have today is just a better prison. You live in your small world with left overs of the elite. And you feel happy Is just another kind of slavery. In the end you give carte blanche to politicians (that are controlled by the elites) to do whatever they feel like it. Representative democracy is corrupted till the bone. Never the less everybody claps and defend political party like there life depends on that. We live in system where the most needed resources are in the hands of big lobbies. We are in the system that doesn’t care about people starving lack wealth education students fees another invention of capitalism (and the education system is made for people not think to much just to execute a task) lack of houses. The economic power represent 11% in the 50s today is more then 40% you CEOs of big companies wining more money then the PIB of 3 African countries all together that is capitalism. TV has so many violence that you get immune to that (another tactic to numb us) never the less we are outraged when something bad happens in side our borders. Capitalism created the warmongers that kill millions all over the world. And still they stage false flags and feed hates so everybody claps well done. In this moment everything is a big stage. Capitalism will fail cause when you mess with the greed of men’s they will destroy everything. Another system will come maybe a bit of Booth maybe a new one. We hope people will wake up on time or the planet will just shake us like a bag of fleas.

    • avatar

      We are not having a conversation. Your hate will consume you mate. You’re to obsessed with comunism. I just have one thing to say. Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal , Uruguay. And even the NHS is socialistic policy. All wealth care systems pay with our money (Taxes). Well keep on living in your illusion.
      Fascism is not a good flag to rise in the world today.
      Next time try to make sense in the way you refute the things I say.
      And don’t use link’s use your words. That’s when you start thinking is when you use your own words.
      I think there is hoppe for you when you let ego go. And start think by yourself instead by others rhetoric.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      The words ‘kettle’, ‘pot’ and ‘black’ appear most apposite re your posts at this juncture.

  10. avatar
    catherine benning

    Is democracy broken in Hungary?

    What appears to be missing in your opening comment is, are the Hungarian people happy with the leader they have chosen? Hence, the continued voting for him/her.

    If the one they have has changed their constitution and his voters have experienced evil from these changes, then to vote for him again would be ridiculous. They would have to be suffering from masochism en masse to do that. So they must be happy in the main. 35 alternatives gives them plenty of room to swing drastically should they want to.

    I feel it is more likely the EU is not happy with the choice of the Hungarian people and wish they would find one of the other 35 to be their leader. In a democracy that would be barking up the wrong tree.

    What this choice of leader is showing the EU representatives is, Hungarians do not want to be under the auspices of EU dictate as they do not identify with the often horrific measures they force onto the population of other EU states. Now their is a lesson they could learn in this result if they want to truly be leaders in a European democracy.

    The answer, as always, is Swiss style Direct Democracy throughout the EU. That way the choices of each State people will be of their preference and not on the whim of those who think they must control against the will of the people.

    Take note Globalists.

  11. avatar

    Probably no more than in Spain, Italy, Greece… EU doesn’t matter about democracy.

    • avatar

      How is democracy broken in the USA ? at least they didn’t get crooked Hilary Clinton as president.

    • avatar

      How is broken in Hungary?

    • avatar

      @Zoltan It isn’t broken in Hungary, it’s working just as it should which is why pro EU fanatics hate it so much.

  12. avatar
    Paul X

    So Hungary is one of the the biggest net recipients in the EU yet has over 1300 infringement cases against it and the EU does nothing?…if anyone ever needed proof of the toothless, profligate, incompetence of the EU then look no further…. thank god were leaving and get to save our share of the 4%

    • avatar

      1. Number of open infringement cases: 22, Hungary is below the EU average, UK has 27.
      2. EU doesn’t buy our silence but our market: HU is one of the biggest net recipients of EU funds, yet the beneficiaries of EU money are the large multinationals of net contributors. Take Budapest’s Metro line 4: tunnel drilling was made by STRABAG AG (DE-AT-FR), metro cars supplied by ALSTOM (FR) and train control systems by SIEMENS (DE). About 80% of the profit benefited those companies, while only 20% contributed to HU’s GDP through local contractors. More about the boomerang effect of EU funds here:

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hi there,

      Besides arguing endlessly over who is less or more democratic or has more infringements- China in the meantime is showing keen interest to finance infrastructure projects on the eastern fringes of the EU- including Hungary. (Ref: Rail link Budapest- Belgrade)


      What’s good about a single economy, EU grants for infrastructure when the Chinese come in and (try) to sell their Chinese “magic”?

      The Chinese are globally known to “do it their way”! They never be or wish to become EU compliant while exporting their prisoner as cheap labor and housing them in “locked up” labor camps and use mainly Chinese plant & equipment. They simply need to be conditionally disqualified in Europe.

      While the EU-27 struggles with high unemployment- some members consider cheap money from China more important than employing locals. It is wrong!

      It should be immaterial which EU country “wins” a mega project (“Strabag”, ALSTOM etc) on an open & competitive tender basis. That is the part of the EEC.

      Construction is a risky business, needing capacity, experience, skills, good team work & a strong financial muscle to supply the contract guarantee & surety! Local “Micky-Mouse” contractors are able to fulfill some tusks- but not the responsibility of a Main Contractor.

      Europe never can compete with China on their terms! Let them deposit their money at an EU bank at no or negative interest- if they wish to get involved in Europe.


    • avatar
      Paul X

      @ Marton
      Yes, countries outside Hungary are supplying the machinery for these projects but who is providing the labour?…… the EU is funding infrastructure improvements which benefit the people of Hungary but they also get the bonus of the hundreds of jobs that comes along with them. To expect all the associated hardware to also be sourced in Hungary is a bit like (to use a favorite EU phrase) “having your cake and eating it”

  13. avatar

    Is this a serious question? When orban’s party (+their paid sattelite parties) delegate 12x more to the voting’s controller groups? o.O

    • avatar

      Orban pays all: Hungarian help in Africa, Italie, Syria, Irak, built up the Synagoge in Sutotica, pays sattelite parties – i´m sure with Soros money – and all that by high corruption!


  14. avatar

    Is democracy broken in the rest of EU? It makes sense this debate? Is there life in Mars?

  15. avatar

    Hard to believe by so many of you that , Hungary and Japan either , have paid the price for their racism :
    0 terrorist attack
    0 sex assault.

  16. avatar

    I know the general people who fund this place, and what some of their goals are,
    and why so many loaded questions are asked…

    1)No country in Europe is a democracy. The closest might be Switzerland.

    2)Lets talk about “democracy” then. the EU and Globalists have a problem because Hungary is not deamed a “Liberal democracy”. You see Liberal is the clue. The authoritarians are trying to label all non-liberals as some evil non “democratic”. But those liberal “democrats” are not democractic demselves.

    3)Whether its France, Hungary, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Germany or Russia,
    none of them are democracies. So stop singling out the ones who resist liberalism.

    • avatar

      That’s because people were told it was only going to be a trading block, if they had been told the truth about the antidemocratic EU they would have taken up arms against it.

  17. avatar

    For sure less broken than in Bruxelles

  18. avatar

    As a Hungarian citizen I am actually shocked by some comments here. While I respect everyone’s opinion, I have to emphasize that just because a government was elected once (because the previous had been too corrupt) that doesn’t mean the people actually share all the “values” with their leaders.

    14/06/2018 Timo Rinke, Project Director of Flight, Migration, and Integration in Europe at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Budapest, has responded to this comment.

    14/06/2018 Dr. Csaba Tóth, co-founder and strategic director of the Republican Institute, a liberal Hungarian think-tank, has responded to this comment.

    • avatar

      Then vote for a different party at the next election, its how democracy works. Personally I think Orbán will in a landslide. :)

  19. avatar

    Hungarians are the only ones who can give you the right answer. Or pretend further that you don’t get it.

  20. avatar

    Right-wing pages and people get harassed by FB and their posts/comments are supessed in the news flows.

    The opposition has been campaigning with lies for years, they rule most of the online communication.

    There’s a team of liberal trolls (200+) who hack conservative accounts and groups, they take over pages and turn them into mockery. Some of their accounts behave very differently from normal FB accounts.. they don’t get banned for insults and harassment. Some keep 4-5 practically identical accounts and that’s no problem for FB either.

    This government has achieved an economic miracle and put the country on a path of growth and progress in so many ways, but they may still get beaten by the Internationalists. The local opposition politicians suck, but they are not the real opponents. The real opponents are behind them, they finance the international smear campaigns, pay the trolls, train the activists.

    How much lying should be tolerated in a democratic election campaign? Where is the point when you can say: the voters were mislead? How much international influence should be tolerated in a democratic election?

  21. avatar

    no. having a government that you dislike is not broken democracy.

  22. avatar

    Tonight the spokesperson of the opposition party “Democratic Circle” discussed with the anchor Olga Kalman on HirTV that the ~20.000 investors who had bought residence-bonds (government bonds issued to private individuals with additional 5-year residence-permit, after standard security control, mostly Chinese buyers).. that these people are “criminals and terrorists and the prime minister is a threat to national security for having such a system”.

    >> This is very typical for the quality of communication in the opposition media.

  23. avatar

    Hungary is ruled by the people, so it is a democracy…

  24. avatar

    not broken
    just hijacked bí a minority.
    now going to disabled

    • avatar

      neeem, szóképekkel próbálok élni. magyarból tanulnod kellett volna…
      No, I’m trying to live with imagery. You were supposed to learn from Hungarian…

  25. avatar

    Broken? Maybe IMPLODED!!! What happens in Spain?? What about Catalonia?

  26. avatar

    Not more than in the governance of the E.U.

  27. avatar
    Marco Peel

    With Greek voters ignored, Catalan votes criminalized, British voters deceived, Spanish lists filled with corrupt mafiosi, Italian lists filled with clowns, French and German lists filled with doubt, general surges in fascist parties everywhere, and the glaringly persistent democratic deficit in the EU, not to mention the Eurozone, Hungary may be the least of our troubles. The EU leads by example, and is obviously not doing a very good job. Only Direct European Democracy and Independent European Justice can guarantee our freedom.

  28. avatar

    Democracy is broken in : Cuba, North Corea, Cina, Cambodhia, Venezuela, and you are questing about Hungary cause you do not like the elected government there! You are hypocrites

    • avatar

      Gabor , you are free to go for the next years to Venezuela to learn how Hungary should be ruled and come back as a prophet the next elections.

    • avatar

      You are right, I also do not like the shitty government I’m living under.
      I live in Greece and there is a communist party in charge, they live as all communists and socialists by sucking the money from people who works to share it within public employees. But maybe it will change in the next election, you see I had to accept the elections, as you should do in your country.

  29. avatar

    And as usual your commenters are always against Orban

  30. avatar

    You think it is broken because the Hungarian people ‘voted’ for someone pro EU fanatics hate ? You have a very screwed up interpretation of what democracy is.

  31. avatar

    I wouldn’t go that far. I think they are pretty much in the global trend, but we should be promoting our values so much more.

  32. avatar

    Democracy is broken in Hungary for two reasons.

    – Representatives are required to vote unanimously as dictated by the party leader (a practice that is unconstitutional, but no one cares about it), it’s the so called “frakciófegyelem” in Hungarian. They are no longer representing their particular district they were elected in. They are just button pressers who have to agree what the leader says.

    – 47% of people voted for Fidesz, which gave then more than 2/3 of the seats.

    2/3 of the seats + the unanimous vote requirement means they can pass any law and the other parties have no means to veto it, even if they unanimously vote against it. This means 53% of the people who voted against Fidesz, the majority, practically has no representation in the parliament at all.

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