- Scholars posit that the successful consolidation of post-communist Central and Eastern European democracies can be linked to their subsequent accession to the European Union (EU). This led observers to assume that the continued democratization of Hungarian society was assured due to their integration into EU institutions. However, since the 2010 election of Viktor Orban, and his party FIDESZ, there have been concerning signs of democratic backsliding in Hungary. While these signs have also been observed in other post-communist nations, Hungary could potentially be termed a competitive authoritarian regime, a regime which has democratic institutions and norms in form but not in substance.
To understand how this has occurred in Hungary this study will use the Levitsky and Way’s competitive authoritarianism model, which has three main factors that determine democratization outcomes. These factors are linkage, leverage, and organizational power. For Hungary democratization was due to linkage with and leverage from the EU. However, these previously influential linkages and leverages from the EU have failed to stop Hungary from backsliding under the current government. Instead FIDESZ has utilized their strong organizational power to legitimize their actions. Therefore, the objectives of this study are two-fold. First, to determine why the EU’s linkage and leverage has failed in Hungary. And second, to determine how FIDESZ has created and utilized their organizational power. The findings are relevant to other post-communist nations that are experiencing democratic backsliding.