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Nationalist Populism and Illiberalism in Hungary

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This paper is dealing with the case of Hungarian nationalist populism and illiberalism which gained its last landslide electoral success in April 2018. I am investigating the contemporary nationalist populism in Hungary in the context of agonizing liberal democracy. I am convinced that the organic crisis of liberal democracy before 2010 has lead the creation of hybrid political regime in Hungary which is based on the permanent state of exception. This paper based on the political theoretical, social and critical theoretical literature.
The Hungarian nationalist populism cannot be understood without the situation behind, that is why I am investigating in the first part of this paper the historical tradition of the regime and the wide context as the collapse of liberal democracy and the era of populism. After that I will analyze the political theories of the Orbán’s regime: the concept of Carl Schmitt, the leader democracy and political constitutionalism. In the third part the “System of National Cooperation” has been detailed analyzed: its electoral success (2010, 2014, 2018), the main characteristics and consequences. Concluding the paper, I will rise the question: what can the EU do with such a nationalist-populist and illiberal system? Dealing with this problem the theoretical (the EU as an externally coordinator) and practical (EU Rule of Law Mechanisms) assumption will be investigated here. My main concern is that without a serious political turn in Hungary (creating an anti-hegemony against the Orbán’s regime) the EU would not achieve success fighting for rule of law.

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Nationalist Populism and Illiberalism in Hungary

  1. 1. May 9, 2018 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Lecture at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada Centre for European Studies | Discovery Centre, Room 482 MacOdrum Library NATIONALIST POPULISM AND ILLIBERALISM IN HUNGARY Historical Origins, Current Trajectories Attila Antal Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Law Institute of Political Science and Institute of Political History Social Theory Research Group antal.attila@ajk.elte.hu antal.attila@polhist.hu
  2. 2. Overview 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 2. The Political Theories of the Orbán’s Regime 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 4. What Is to Be Done?
  3. 3. 1. THE SITUATION BEHIND THE NATIONALIST- POPULIST REGIMES IN EASTERN EUROPE
  4. 4. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.1 The Tradition of Right-wing Nationalism and Authoritarianism • Interwar Christian-nationalist era, illiberal and neo- feudal • Horthy’s regency: authoritarian democracy • Functioning multi-party parliament, significant restrictions on civil liberties and political pluralism • Permanent political enemies • Biopolitical attributes • Racist and chauvinist character
  5. 5. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.2 The Collapse of “Hyper-Liberal” Democracy The Failure of Legal Constitutionalism • 1990s: strong consensus about the liberal democracy • Legal constitutionalism as the main paradigm • Constitution of 1989 and the jurisdiction of the Hungarian Constitutional Court • Rule of law (prevailing over the politics) • Courts can overrule the will of the people incorporated in parliamentary decision-making processes The Failure of Neoliberalism: The Politics of Anger • 2000s: radical critique of liberal democracy • Reformist anger • Losers of democracy • The fundament of liberal democracy is the (neoliberal) capitalism • Béla Greskovits (1998): “the end of patience” in Eastern Europe • David Ost (2005): the anger of “wrathful people” and the populist turn
  6. 6. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.3 The New Era of Populism • The historical-theoretical complex of populism and nationalism • Radical and to centrist populist parties • Populist entrepreneurs (Stanley, 2017) • On the demand-side (Inglehart– Norris, 2016) • Economic inequality perspective • Cultural backlash thesis
  7. 7. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.3 The New Era of Populism • The historical-theoretical complex of populism and nationalism • Radical and to centrist populist parties • Populist entrepreneurs (Stanley, 2017) • On the demand-side (Inglehart– Norris, 2016) • Economic inequality perspective • Cultural backlash thesis (Inglehart–Norris, 2016)
  8. 8. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.3 The New Era of Populism • The historical-theoretical complex of populism and nationalism • Radical and to centrist populist parties • Populist entrepreneurs (Stanley, 2017) • On the demand-side (Inglehart– Norris, 2016) • Economic inequality perspective • Cultural backlash thesis
  9. 9. 1. The Situation Behind the Nationalist-Populist Regimes in Eastern Europe 1.3 The New Era of Populism (Inglehart–Norris, 2016)
  10. 10. 2. THE POLITICAL THEORIES OF THE ORBÁN’S REGIME
  11. 11. 2. The Political Theories of the Orbán’s Regime Leader democracy Political constitutionalism Carl Schmitt
  12. 12. 2. The Political Theories of the Orbán’s Regime 2.1 The Renaissance of Carl Schmitt • The dangers of depolitization • The Concept of the Political • Liberalism denies the relevance of the political and the concept of the enemy • Depoliticize and neutralize all the political conflicts and turn political battles towards legal and economical fields • Sovereign is he who decides on the exception
  13. 13. 2. The Political Theories of the Orbán’s Regime 2.2 Leader Democracy • An elitist political theory (Körösényi, 2005) • Leadership and representative government • Political leaders are active political representatives • The executive power, especially the Prime Minister represents
  14. 14. 2. The Political Theories of the Orbán’s Regime 2.3 Political Constitutionalism • Constitution can only exist in the circumstances of politics • Democracy needs to be defended against judicial review (Bellamy–Beaher, 1993) • Recognize the core element of the concept of the Political • The rule of the politics, rule by law
  15. 15. 3. THE SYSTEM OF “NATIONAL COOPERATION” (FROM 2010)
  16. 16. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.1 The Creation of a New System: Making a Political Constitution • Election in 2010: the Fidesz-KDNP gained two- thirds majority • The program of Orbán’s government: The Program of National Cooperation • Destroying the former constitutional system: the main target is the Constitutional Court • New Constitution: Fundamental Law (adopted April 2011) • Six Amendments • Highly debated: Fourth Amendment (criminalizing homelessness, enable the government to ban campaign ads, university restrictions) 2010
  17. 17. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.1 The Creation of a New System: Making a Political Constitution • Critiques by Venice Commission and European Union • The European Parliament adopted Tavares Report (2013) • Hungary violated the fundamental European precepts of liberty, democracy and the rule of law • Copenhagen dilemma: lacks effective monitoring and sanctioning tools concerning fundamental European values 2010
  18. 18. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.2 The Stabilization of the Regime Under the New Electoral Law • A new two-third majority: Fidesz–KDNP won 66.8 percent of the 199 seats • Because of the new Electoral Law: (1) the strengthening the individual electoral-districts; (2) „super-majority” because of the fragmentary votes; (3) right to vote Hungarian minorities in neighboring countries • Pre-dominant party system: only a strong- central party can realize the advantages ensured by the system 2014 2010
  19. 19. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.3 How can the Orbán-regime Be Characterized? Elitist Nationalist Populism Populism and Repoliticisation/ The Theoretical Pillars Populism as Political Communication and Strategy Populism as Political Logic and Discourse Populism as an Ideology Populism as a Form of Democracy Need for Repoliticisation Elitism Carl Schmitt’s Theory + - - - + +/- Leader Democracy - - - - + + Political Constitutionalism + + - - + -
  20. 20. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.3 How can the Orbán-regime Be Characterized? Illiberal Democracy • „Trademark” of the Orbán regime • Danger: discredit liberal democracy (Zakaria, 1997) • Populism and illiberalism goes hand in hand (Krastev, 2007) • The Orbán’s regime can be described with one of the degraded concepts of democracy, (illiberal democracy) (Bozóki–Hegedűs, 2018) • Hungary belongs in the category of non- democratic regimes, to hybrid regimes 2014 2010
  21. 21. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.3 How can the Orbán-regime Be Characterized? Hybrid Regimes • Ever-widening grey zone between liberal democracy and dictatorship • Adjectives to describe forms of authoritarianism • Populism pushes increases the likelihood that fragile democracies (Levitsky , 2017) • Populism in power has significant impact on the hybridity of political systems 2014 2010
  22. 22. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate • Fidesz- KDNP alliance won its third-consecutive two-thirds majority in 2018 Main characters • The constant enemy creation • Governing in the state of exception • Nationalism as biopolitics and civilizationism 2014 2010 2018
  23. 23. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate The Constant Enemy Creation • Anti-refugee campaign in 2015 • Biopolitical campaign • The system requires new enemies: the biopolitical weapon turned against Brussels, Hungarian NGOs concerning human rights, George Soros, and other inner enemies 2014 2010 2018
  24. 24. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate Governing in the State of Exception • The government started to use the concept nationalist-populism to regulate the human life, create a permanent state of exceptions (Agamben, 2014) • The populist hybrid regimes started to manage the effects of the crisis made by them 2014 2010 2018
  25. 25. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate Nationalism as Biopolitics and Civilizationism • Reconfiguration of nationalism as biopolitics and civilizationsim • From biological racism to a “neo-racism” (Balibar, 1991) • State racism • Bionationalism (Kelly, 2004) • Nationalism shifts to »civilizationism« driven by the notion of a civilizational threat from Islam (Brubaker, 2017) 2014 2010 2018
  26. 26. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate Nationalism as Biopolitics and Civilizationism 2014 2010 2018
  27. 27. 3. The System of “National Cooperation” (from 2010) 3.4 The Election of 2018 and its Consequences: The Politics of Permanent Hate Nationalism as Biopolitics and Civilizationism 2014 2010 2018
  28. 28. 4. WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
  29. 29. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.1 The Declining Hungarian Democracy • The Hungarian democracy has damaged unprecedently in the last 8 years • Freedom House (2017) • Transparency International (2018) (Freedom House: Nations in Transit 2016)
  30. 30. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.2 What Can the EU Do? • The EU was not capable of standing up effectively • Very similar illiberal and unconstitutional processes have been reinforced in Poland • Hungary and Poland caused an internal crisis in the EU • Lack of effective monitoring and sanctioning tools concerning the rule of law and human rights in the case when a state has already joined to the EU
  31. 31. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.2 What Can the EU Do? The Theory of Externally Constrained Hybrid Regimes • Bozóki–Hegedűs, 2018 • The EU functions as a regime sustaining, a regime constraining, and, last but not least, as a regime legitimizing factor for Hungary • The EU is not just an environment but rather as a part of those systems • Not enough: infringement proceedings • Slow down and prevent the undermining of liberal constitutionalism and the concomitant curbing of human rights and liberties
  32. 32. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.2 What Can the EU Do? The Draft of the Sargentini Report • 12 April 2018: the LIBE first exchange of views on the situation in Hungary • Serious concerns • “There is a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded.”
  33. 33. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.2 What Can the EU Do? The EU Rule of Law Mechanisms (RLM) • “Nuclear bomb” • Article 7(1) Treaty on the European Union • Preventive mechanism: the Council may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU values • Sanctions procedure • Council can suspend certain membership rights • What kind of rights?
  34. 34. 4. What Is to Be Done? 4.3. How Can a New Democracy in Hungary Be Achieved? • “Institutional constructions, however, will never succeed when there is a lack of political will.” (Sargentini Report) • The Hungarian government has already put the draft Report into its permanent hate campaign • A regime based on “rule of politics” cannot be defeated by “rule of law” • A totally redesigned political and intellectual opposition • Anti-hegemonic structure which reveals the organic crisis of the Orbán’s system (Gramsci, 2000) • The responsibility of organic intellectuals
  35. 35. References Agamben, Giorgio (2014): From the State of Control to a Praxis of Destituent Power. ROAR Magazine, February 4, 2014. https://roarmag.org/essays/agamben-destituent- power-democracy/ Balibar, Étienne (1991): Is There a “Neo-Racism”? In: Balibar, Étienne – Immanuel Wallerstein (1991): Race, Nation Class: Ambiguous Identities. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso. Bellamy, Richard (2007): Political Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bellamy, Richard–Baehr, Peter (1993): Carl Schmitt and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy. European Journal of Political Research, 23 163–185. The manuscript is available at SSRN. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2543335 Bozóki, András – Hegedűs, Dániel (2018): An externally constrained hybrid regime: Hungary in the European Union. Democratization. https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2018.1455664 Brubaker, Rogers (2017): Between nationalism and civilizationism: the European populist moment in comparative perspective. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1294700
  36. 36. References European Parliament (2016): Understanding the EU Rule of Law mechanisms. Briefing, January 2016. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/573922/EPRS_BRI(20 16)573922_EN.pdf Freedom House (2017): Country Report. Hungary. Edited by Dániel Hegedűs. https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2017/hungary Gramsci, Antonio (2000): The Antonio Gramsci reader: selected writings, 1916-1935. Edited by Forgacs, David. New York: NYU Press. Greskovits, Béla (1998): The Political Economy of Protest and Patience: East European and Latin American Transformations. Central European University Press. Inglehart, Ronald - Norris, Pippa (2016): Trump, Brexit, and the rise of Populism: Economic have-nots and cultural backlash. Paper for the presidential plenary panel on “Legitimacy of Political Systems: System Support from Comparative Perspective”, 11.00-12.30 on Monday 25 July 2016, 24th World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Poznan, Poland. Kelly, Mark (2004): Racism, Nationalism and Biopolitics: Foucaultʼs Society Must Be Defended, 2003. Contretemps 4, September 2004. https://sydney.edu.au/contretemps/4september2004/Kelly.pdf
  37. 37. References Krastev, Ivan (2007): The Strange Death of the Liberal Consensus. Journal of Democracy, vol. 18, no. 4. 56–63. Körösényi András (2005): Political Representation in Leader Democracy. Government and Opposition, Summer 2005, Volume 40, Issue 3. 358–378. Levitsky, S. (2017): Populism and Competitive Authoritarianism, Memo Prepared for “Global Populisms as a Threat to Democracy” Conference, Stanford University, November 3-4, 2017. On the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012) (2012/2130(INI)) Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=- //EP//TEXT+REPORT+A7-2013-0229+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN Ost, David (2005): Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY. Zakaria, Fareed (1997): The Rise of Illiberal Democracy. Foreign Affairs 76, no. 6, 22–43.
  38. 38. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION!

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