ABOUT THE AUTOCRACY ANALYST
This blog provides you English news updates, articles, and videos about rising authoritarian rule in Hungary.
WHY DO WE NEED IT NOW?
We live in an age when democracy is in decay and authoritarianism is rising. One of the first countries where the tide turned and the process of democratisation was reversed is Hungary. Since it came to power in 2010, the government of Viktor Orban has been slowly undermining the rule of law with its constant attacks against democratic institutions, independent press, and civil society.
According to the Nations in Transit report published by Freedom House in 2020, Hungary is no longer a democracy but a “hybrid regime”, having lost its status as a “semi-consolidated democracy”.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the situation has further deteriorated. The government used the crisis as a pretence for a power-grab that has been unprecedented in the European Union: the Orban government can now govern by decree, without any constitutional checks or balances, for an unspecified time period. Armoured with its newly gained powers, the government is now launching further assaults against civil liberties and the rule of law.
Civil society and the remnants of the independent press make huge efforts to monitor and document these assaults, but they often remain invisible to those who do not speak Hungarian. This blog aims to fill this gap and provide an analytic insight into rising authoritarianism by presenting relevant cases for abuses of power, and giving voice to activists and communities under attack.
THE RIGHTS REPORTER FOUNDATION
The Rights Reporter Foundation (RRF) is a non-profit organisation founded by Hungarian activists to advocate for the human rights of vulnerable populations. We use the power of video for community mobilisation and advocacy campaigning. Our vision is of a society where policies affecting vulnerable communities are evidence-informed and respect human rights, as well as developed and implemented with the meaningful involvement of these communities. The main focus of our work is on people who use drugs, sex workers and people who live with HIV, but we are glad to work with other stigmatised communities, such as LMBTQ people, ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees and homeless people. Our mission is to educate the public about the role of evidence in policy formulation, to provide a voice for vulnerable communities, and to improve the advocacy efforts of NGOs by providing technical assistance and training. The RRF team is based in Budapest, and most of our activities focus on Europe, but we have cooperated with a number of NGOs beyond Europe, from New Zealand to Canada, from Mexico to Indonesia.
Rights Reporter Foundation
Hungary, 1032 Budapest, San Marco Street 70.
Editor, Rights Reporter Blog
Lili Török is a freelance writer and economist who focuses on emerging market economies. She has a an MPA in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis from Columbia University and MA in Political Economy from Central European University. She is the author of a thesis on the perceptions of the 1989 Transition among young people in Hungary. Born and raised in Budapest and Moscow, she lives in New York City.
Executive Director of the Rights Reporter Foundation.
He is a human rights activist and drug policy expert, the founder and editor of the Drugreporter website since 2004, the author of countless articles, co-author of books and director of films about harm reduction and drug policy reform. He was the Director of the Drug Policy Program at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union between 2004 and 2015. He is experienced in working at international drug policy forums such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He was twice elected to the Core Group of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs. He is advisory board member of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the Steering Committee member of the Correlation European Harm Reduction Network. He was representing the Hungarian Harm Reduction Network at the government’s drug advisory body in Hungary between 2007 and 2015. As a member of the Drugreporter video advocacy team, he has produced videos about drug policy issues in a number of countries. These videos are now part of a unique online drug policy video library.
Video Manager of the Rights Reporter Foundation.
István Gábor Takács is a human rights activist, videographer and trainer. He ran the Video Advocacy Program of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union between 2007-2015. He worked as a needle exchange program counselor for 5 years. He is author of several articles on harm reduction and cameraman, editor, director and co-director of more than 700 online videos, among them longer documentaries, such as ”A Day in the Life: The World of Humans Who Use Drugs” (2016), “Without Rights” (2009), “Without a Chance” (2014), “Room in the 8th District” (2014) and “The Invisible” (2011). Since 2016 he works at the Rights Reporter Foundation, where besides producing films, he is training activists in video advocacy.
Head of Administration of the Rights Reporter Foundation.
Zselyke Tófalvi after graduating from Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, has worked for the President’s Office of the Hungarian minority party in Romania, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. Afterwards, she received her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Corvinus University of Budapest. She has worked for Center for European Neighborhood Studies at Central European University, Budapest since its establishment in 2005. Her research topics focus on the study of ethnic minorities in East Central Europe and the intricacies generated by the transformations of the concept of citizenship in the context of multicultural societies. Previously, she had worked for the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU). She joined RRF in 2020 as head of administration.
The Rights Reporter Foundation currently has two major donors, the Open Society Foundations and the European Commission.
THE LATEST ON AUTOCRACY ANALYST
- David Takes on Goliath: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in HungaryFor a month now, hundreds of Hungarian students have occupied their campus and resist the government’s pressure to eliminate the autonomy of their university. Their fight attracted international attention and evoked support from broad ranges of society. In this article we try to put this story in the context and present you the challenges of resisting autocracy in a hybrid regime.
- Hungarian Public Foundation Rejects NGO Application for EU Funding over Unlawful Foreign Agent LawIn June, the highest court in the European Union ruled that Hungary’s Foreign Agent Law requiring NGOs with foreign funding to self-identify and disclose their donors was unlawful. A few months later, a Hungarian public foundation operated by the government denied Power of Humanity Foundation, a human rights education NGO, EU funding over noncompliance with the same law. The NGO is asking the European Commission to investigate.
- 100 Years Ago, Hungary Adopted the First Racial Law in Europe100 years ago, on 23 September 1920, the Hungarian parliament adopted the so-called Numerus Clausus Law, often dubbed the first racial, antisemitic law in Europe, long before the Nazi racial laws.