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Home / Resource / Issue Brief / Rule of Law, Free Speech, and Individual Rights Disappearing in Hungary
October 12, 2018

Rule of Law, Free Speech, and Individual Rights Disappearing in Hungary

In April 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his nationalist Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament after garnering roughly 50 percent of the popular vote. The election initiated Orbán’s third consecutive term as prime minister, and followed extensive changes to the Hungarian constitution and electoral laws that election experts say provide his party with significant undue political advantage. Given a political landscape in which Fidesz has abolished many governmental checks and balances and largely captured state-run and private media, Orbán faced no competitive opposition. Instead, in a campaign marked by state-funded antisemitic and racist advertising, he based his platform on opposition to migrants and refugees (of which Hungary accepts next to zero), non-governmental watchdogs, and the HungarianAmerican financier George Soros. During the election, Orbán declared that “after the elections we will take revenge—moral, political, and legal revenge” against real and perceived enemies of the Hungarian state. Following the election, the Fidesz government has passed new laws curtailing judicial independence, further targeting free speech, and criminalizing the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).