Another step down in the US think tank’s democracy ranking. Hungary went fro semi-consolidated democracy – a dubious accolade it earned in 2017 – to a hybrid regime. The enabling act that allows Orbán to govern by decree with corona excuse is apparently just one of the symptoms, but not the cause of the demotion.
According to the 2020 report of Freedom House, Hungary has ceased to be a democracy (even a semi-consolidated one) and became a hybrid regime – or “transitional regime” for those who are on their way up. But Hungary is working its way down on the civilizatory ladder, clearly aiming at the late 19th century that was so comfy for those in power – and the rest didn’t matter.
“Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary has similarly dropped any pretense of respecting democratic institutions. After centralizing power, tilting the electoral playing field, taking over much of the media, and harassing critical civil society organizations since 2010, Orbán moved during 2019 to consolidate control over new areas of public life, including education and the arts. The 2020 adoption of an emergency law that allows the government to rule by decree indefinitely has further exposed the undemocratic character of Orbán’s regime. Hungary’s decline has been the most precipitous ever tracked in Nations in Transit; it was one of the three democratic frontrunners as of 2005, but in 2020 it became the first country to descend by two regime categories and leave the group of democracies entirely.”
–Freedom House: Nations in Transit 2020 – Dropping the Democratic Facade (pdf)
The 2020 Nations in Transit report by Freedom House thus measured the steepest decline among 29 former Eastern Bloc countries. Poland, with all its troubles, is still in Orbán’s rear view mirror.
Hungary is now on equal footing with Serbia and Montenegro, while other Balkan countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are still “semi-consolidated democracies” according to the ranking.