Freedom House: Hungary Only A Semi-Consolidated Democracy

Hungary now has the lowest ranking in the Central European region in the Freedom House Index measuring democratic developments in 29 transition countries. (Nations in Transit – Freedom House 2017.) It is now a Semi-Consolidated Democracy, only Romania and Bulgaria fared worse in the closer region.


Image: Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017

But Hungary beats them all by how much the level of freedom decreased between 2015-16.

The EU: A faltering engine for democratic change?

Image: Freedom House, Nations In Transit 2017

For the first time since 1995, there are now more Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes on the index than Consolidated Democracies, concludes the index.


Image: Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017

In the past 10 years, the average Democracy Score in Central Europe has declined faster than in either of the report’s two other subregions, the Balkans and Eurasia, with independent media and corruption accounting for much of the drop.

— Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017

Poland’s score reached its lowest point in the survey. Poland and Hungary deserved their very own chapter of concerns. In these countries, populist leaders have attacked constitutional courts, undermined checks and balances, and have turned public media into propaganda arms.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party have entrenched themselves ever more firmly in power each year since 2010, increasingly stoking bigotry and hatred through a self-serving anti-immigration campaign. Having spent its first years rewriting the constitution, taking over the courts, and warping the electoral system, the government has now snuffed out most of the critical media and built an efficient machine of state capture and grand corruption. With the 2018 elections nearing, Fidesz is turning its attention to civil society, threatening to “sweep out” organizations backed by foreign funding.

— Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017


Image: Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017

The biggest difference between Orbán’s Hungary and Kaczyński’s Poland, however, is that PiS is transforming the Polish landscape at breakneck speed and in violation of the country’s own laws. With a parliamentary supermajority, Fidesz was able to rewrite the constitution and the legislative framework in ways that were formally legal, even though they clearly violated the principles of liberal democracy.

 — Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2017

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