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Photo:Hungarian Protest,” by John Murray licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Hue is modified from the original.

Havasi, Virág. “Power and powerlessness of the civil society in Hungarian illiberal democracy between 2010–2022.” Politics in Central Europe 18, no. 4: 499-529.


In the  study  we  examine  the  pulling,  pushing  and  pulling  back  factors  and  events  that  influenced  civil  activism  in  Hungary  between  2010–2022,  which  was  the  period of the birth of illiberal democracy in the country. We describe – relying on newspaper reports – the most important events and campaigns in the given period and their effectiveness. In Hungary citizenship activity is at a low level, even within Central Europe. The viability of civil society is decreasing, especially in terms of financing opportunities, the legal environment, the image of the civil sphere, and ability to interest representation. We found that between  2010–2022  the presence  of grievances  as triggers  was constant  in  the country, while the opportunity structures for action narrowed somewhat, but the illiberal Hungarian system is restrictive and not oppressive. There is a way to protest, to act in a different way, and actions do take place, but it is rarely possible to influence decision-makers – mostly in simple matters that affect everyone. However, social movements do not only fight for instrumental goals, but they also mobilise people, build organisations, contribute to self-development, form collective identity and (re)socialise the participants. These are important consequences even if the instrumental goals are not achieved.

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.