New and Old Enemies

While Hungary Targets Minorities, Poland Depicts Independent Judges As Irresponsible

6 February 2020

Edit Zgut-Przybylska

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Authoritarian populists employ hatemongering not only against ethnic or national minorities but against agents that could somewhat restrict their executive power. Hence, the recent attempts of Fidesz to use xenophobic rhetoric against the Roma community in Hungary is not too dissimilar from the attack by PiS politicians on the independence of hte Polish judiciary.

To understand the nature of authoritarian populism in Hungary and Poland, where the governments thrive on identifying enemies and the amplification of fears, one should remember the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist.

In this joke, the pessimist is stressed that the situation is so bad it cannot get worse. Then the optimist says: yes, it can get even worse.

Sense of justice

The Hungarian Prime Minister opened a new chapter at the beginning of the year. After a Hungarian Appeals Court ruled that, altogether, 100 million Hungarian forints shall be paid as compensation to the Roma students whose education suffered due to racial segregation, the leader of Fidesz claimed that the decision was a selfish, self-centred “fundraising mission” of George Soros.

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Edit Zgut-Przybylska

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow and re:constitution fellow. Political scientist and sociologist, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Vice-president of Amnesty International Hungary and a guest lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute of the State Department of the United States. Focusing on informal power and populism in the context of Hungarian and Polish democratic backsliding.

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