Hungary and Poland managed to delay a mechanism that would tie EU funding to rule-of-law conditions, but a future where the EU can penalize Hungary for antidemocratic behavior by withholding funding is closer than ever.
Most of the editorial staff at Hungary’s largest online news site resigned today, after a decade-long struggle for the company’s independence. The way pro-government interests co-opted the company, slowly, and then all at once, is a textbook example of the way Fidesz has built its media empire over the years. The way the editorial staff stood their ground, and broadcast this struggle, is an important commentary on independent journalism and democratic backsliding. The question is: are Hungarians ready to pay to help them start over?
China needed to pass through Europe. Hungary needed to bypass it. Here is the story of the Hungarian-Chinese partnership to renovate the Budapest-Belgrade railway route.
Faced with a dire economic outlook, the Orbán government undermined those best positioned to help — municipal governments.
Nervous for a Samsung investment, the Orban administration used the COVID-19 pandemic to pass a decree and strip an opposition-led town of power and taxes.
On March 31, the Hungarian parliament voted to grant extraordinary emergency powers to its government, enabling the Orbán administration to rule by decree, and to jail anyone accused of distorting the truth for up to five years. The law passed without a sunset clause — it will remain in effect until the end of the pandemic, which will be up to the government to decide. With this, Hungary became the first country where a government used the pandemic as an excuse to infinitely expand its powers. The specifics of how these powers are used are important, because Hungary has been a testing lab for post-truth authoritarian regimes for years. Here is a review of what happened since then.