Illiberalism in Numbers

The Berlin-based Democracy Reporting International has published a report  (pdf) on Hungary’s illiberal state since 2010 and covered five fields in which the erosion of freedom can be quantified.

Some fun facts from the report: 

DRI Hungary

On the constitutional court

The governing Fidesz effectively replaced every constitutional court judge with their own stooges. As a consequence, their success rate before the court went up from 20% (before April 2013) to 70% (after April 2013). Who said might is not right?

const court

Image: DRI report

On state media bias and propaganda spending

Media outlets owned and influenced by government have the funniest standards of journalism. Which should be their own problem – except they dominate the media market, especially outside of Budapest and offline. During the anti-migrant hysteria referendum, for instance:

Hungary’s state-owned TV network M1 … supported the government’s position 95% of the time. TV2, a station acquired by a businessman with close government ties, exhibited the second strongest pro-government bias. These findings confirm earlier media monitoring data by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSZE) during Hungary’s 2014 general election campaign, which found that 84% of M1’s coverage of the Opposition was negative compared to just 5% for the ruling Fidesz party

Fidesz, the governing party spent a neat 16+16 million euros on that anti-EU campaign and stoking hatred for refugees – as if hatred were in short supply.

The 32 million euros spent on this out-shadows the entire budget of the Brexit campaign in the UK. Because we can afford it. It cost 4 times more (EUR 3.17 per capita) to convince a Hungarian that migrants are scary and the EU wants his blood than it cost the Brexit campaigners (EUR 0.78) to convince voters that Brexit is totally an economic issue. Not by any chance geopolitical suicide.

campaign spending

Image: DRI report on Hungary

On oligarchs and corruption

Based on publicly available data, it pays to be an oligarch in Hungary. You keep winning public tenders uncontrollably – or, as Lőrinc Mészáros, Orbán’s rumored personal treasurer put it: I am better than Zuckerberg. He used to be Orbán’s gas repairman before he became public tender winner in chief.

Among the top 4 are also featured: Orbán’s super talented son-in-law, his football buddy, and his former college roommate. See the amount and the share of public contract wins among the nation’s best, our pride and joy.


Image: DRI report

Read the entire report here.

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