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Photo: “Évértékelő 2020 (5)“, by Elekes Andor licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Kádár, András. “In its Nature—How Stealth Authoritarianism Keeps Stealing Along During the Pandemic, and How Can it be Stopped?.” Journal of Human Rights Practice (2020).


This essay illustrates, through certain measures taken by the Hungarian government during the COVID19-epidemic, how the very nature of illiberal regimes determines their ways of dealing with national crises. How at times that call for unity, they opt for increasing polarization; how instead of transparency, they choose to restrict freedom of expression; and how they use the crisis to further weaken checks and balances instead of reinforcing public trust in the government by strengthening oversight of the executive. The essay also argues that despite the undeniable difficulties such situations pose to human rights work, they also present a unique opportunity to—more effectively than before—re-explain and re-present human rights as a matter of importance to all members of society—majority and minority alike. The experience that in crisis situations belonging to the mainstream may not protect one from becoming vulnerable and exposed to abuses by those in power, may enable rule of law and human rights advocates to better convey the message that the accountability of the executive branch is crucial to a well-functioning democracy, while an illiberal regime does not provide sufficient protection against such instances of government overreach.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.