The Art Of Orbán – Weaponising Crises To Cement Grip On Hungary

Viktor Orbán uses a divide-and-conquer method of maintaining power

25 April 2023

Iván László Nagy

Marcin Król Fellow

The past five years have seen a number of adverse events for Viktor Orbán’s government. Yet, while the quality of life steadily deteriorates, none of the crises proved fatal to the fortunes of his Fidesz party. In fact, he managed to turn them to his advantage thanks to the authoritarian control over the media, fearmongering and absence of charismatic opposition.

As spring temperatures rose to well above 10 degrees Celsius this month and the inflation rate finally plateaued, albeit at a whopping 25 per cent, Viktor Orbán could once again declare victory – this time over the cost-of-living crisis that has plagued Hungary for months. 

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Around the summer of 2022, it seemed for a moment that his 13-year rule was fraying after the third clear electoral victory the previous April. Hungary seemed to have lost all allies in the EU over its ambiguous stance on Ukraine. At the same time, his time-tested political doctrine of fearmongering and polarisation on the domestic scene looked impotent in dealing with the deteriorating living standards and economic malaise. 

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Iván László Nagy

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow. Ivan Laszlo Nagy is a 23-year-old Budapest-based political journalist, writing for a leading independent Hungarian news site, hvg.hu. As a UK graduate, his academic research about the communication techniques of populist regimes transformed into critical reporting about global democracy, with a special focus on quasi-authoritarian political flows in the West and in Hungary. His work as a reporter, analyst and commentator revolves around understanding the dynamics of societies oppressed by modern semi-dictators and working out ways for meaningful civic action within them, with special emphasis on mobilising young people for democratic action.

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