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Photo: Election 2018 in Hungary. Taken on the 8th of April, 2018, around 23.35. Bálna, Budapest. Orbán Viktor announcing the victory of the FIDESZ party.“, by Elekes Andor licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0. Hue modified from the original.

Körtvélyesi, Zsolt. “Hungary and the Paradoxes of Illiberal Anti-Multiculturalism.” In Assessing Multiculturalism in Global Comparative Perspective, pp. 237-260. Routledge, 2022.


The post-2010 regime in Hungary is often labeled as “illiberal,” which poses a direct challenge to the values that are central to post-war European projects like the Council of Europe or the European Union. Within this context, Victor Orbán has rejected liberal multiculturalism and instead advanced an “illiberal multiculturalism” that deploys multiculturalism policies to serve electoral rather than integrationist objectives. This development can only be fully understood when past institutional commitments to minority rights that once made Hungary look like the poster child of the post-socialist transition to liberal democracy are shown to be what they really are: shallow reforms without a genuine commitment to multiculturalism. The chapter concludes with a brief speculation about the possibility of liberal multiculturalism actually emerging in Hungary. Despite all appearances there might yet be hope for the emergence of a genuine commitment to multiculturalism.

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.