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’Illiberal democracy’ thesis debunked

May 26th, 2018

A veteran professor of law dismisses as inconsistent the description of Hungary’s political regime as an ‘illiberal democracy’. He suggests ‘marketing governance’ as a more fitting definition.

In 168 Óra, Tamás Sárközy, a professor of law and author of several books on governance finds it mistaken to describe the political system at work in Hungary as an ‘illiberal democracy’. That was the expression Viktor Orbán used in a speech four years ago (see BudaPost, July 30, 2014) and thereafter by his critics as well. Mr. Sárközy recalls that the term was coined by American analyst Fareed Zakaria to describe Latin-American régimes where the only political right citizens were left with was casting a vote at elections. Hungary is a different case altogether, he argues, He describes PM Orbán’s style of governance as following the French tradition of centralized rule underpinned with a markedly conservative ideology. He agrees with conservative sociologist András Körösényi who described the approach of the incumbent Hungarian government as one of a ‘plebeian character’, addressing citizens directly through what he calls ‘marketing governance’. In more conventional terms, Sárközy defines Mr Orbán’s style of governance as one based on a centralised structure and representing the idea of a ‘caring, politically-motivated’ state.

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