In Hungary, It Also Started with Local Media

PKN Orlen's Takeover of a Regional Press Network Echoes a Hungarian Political Script

10 December 2020

Wojciech Przybylski

Editor-in-Chief

Kaczyński, just like Orbán, is afraid of journalists, so he decided to buy or fire them. If he succeeds, Poles will lose their informational sovereignty, and their ties with the West will be dependent on drip feeding.

The announcement of PKN Orlen’s takeover of the regional press network from the hands of a German publisher evokes justified associations with Hungary. Viktor Orbán is exercising almost absolute power, due to, among other things, his monopoly over the media. He is exploiting nearly 500 bigger and smaller titles for party propaganda, on a scale unprecedented since the fall of communism.

That’s why, for example, József Szájer’s Brussels scandal is going unnoticed in Hungary; the media is dominated by the narrative of Soros’s conspiracy and the millions of immigrants constantly attacking national identity.

Orbán’s system cannot simply be copied in its entirety, but Poland has recently once again followed in the footsteps that led to the retreat of democracy in Hungary and the establishment of a political hybrid – one that is sometimes described as authoritarian. Voters are deliberately deprived of informational sovereignty: we are not controlling the authorities through the media, the authorities use the media to controls us, the citizens.

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Wojciech Przybylski

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Board at the Res Publica Foundation. His expertise includes European politics and political culture. Previously, he has been the editor-in-chief of Eurozine - a Vienna based magazine with a European network of cultural journals, and a Polish quarterly Res Publica Nowa. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017.

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