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Conflicting analyses on the nature of the ‘Orbán regime’

March 29th, 2021

A renowned liberal economist believes Hungary is neither a democracy nor a dictatorship, while a conservative philosopher thinks that Prime Minister Orbán is bringing the regime change to completion.

In an interview with Heti Világgazdaság, economist János Kornai, a professor emeritus of Harvard University, withdraws his earlier description of the political setup in Hungary as an autocracy. He admits that the term has a different meaning in the professional literature. Nevertheless, he still insists that Hungary is not a democracy, although it is clearly also not a dictatorship. He concedes that he was wrong 30 years ago in believing that capitalism and democracy would solve Hungary’s problems. In reality, the former produced huge inequalities while the latter failed to prevent corruption. The 93-year-old economist maintains that Hungary has never been a lasting democracy, unlike the United States or Great Britain, nor does he believe that Hungary will become a democracy anytime soon.

In an interview with Mandiner, on the other hand, philosopher András Lánczi sees Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s strategy as aimed at completing the 1990 regime change. What is seen by his opponents as unbridled corruption, he suggests, is an effort to create a middle-class. The communist regime created the means to fulfill its ambitions by nationalising capital, while the Liberals of the regime change acquired huge wealth from privatisation. The source has always been public wealth. As to why a middle-class must be created, Lánczi says that without one there is a constant danger of radicalisation in politics. What many describe as corruption in today’s Hungary, he claims, is a kind of public policy which has the national interest in view. In all this, he points out, the Prime Minister plays a pivotal role.  Fidesz, Lánczi says, will exist as long as Mr Orbán remains active as a politician.

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