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Bálint Magyar

Parallel System Narratives: Polish and Hungarian Regime Formations Compared

Lecture | September 28 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues), Wildavsky Conference Room

Bálint Magyar, Sociologist and former Hungarian Minister of Education

Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Center for Right-Wing Studies

The Polish election results of 2015 seem to have brought Hungarian and Polish development into synchronicity again, a congruence that is apparent throughout history. A first glance may give the impression that we are dealing with regimes of identical nature, especially taking into account the similarities of the authoritarian politics practiced by Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS) and Viktor Orbán (Fidesz), characterized by a tendency to eliminate autonomous social forces and control mechanisms, as well as the application similar ideological frames.

But beneath the similarities on the surface these are attempts at establishing different types of autocratic regimes. Orbán’s regime, which we can define as a post-communist Mafia state, is built on the twin motivations of power centralization and family accumulation of wealth, the subject of its power is the adopted political family freed of the limitations posed by formal institutions. Kaczyński’s regime is better described as a conservative-autocratic experiment driven by ambitions of power and ideological inclinations. The active subject of the Polish experiment in autocracy is the ruling right-wing party, the PiS. While the Hungarian regime essentially operates with ideologies, the Polish one is more ideology driven.