A description of the “starve and strangle” policies used by the Hungarian governing party to shrink space for free civil society in the country, applied behind the smoke screen of hate propaganda
Gaining a landslide victory in 2010 and using its constitutional supermajority, the populist, right-wing Fidesz-KDNP government started to systematically and consciously undermine the system of checks and balances by weakening, eliminating or occupying those institutions and actors that can exercise any form of control over the executive branch of power.
Human rights watchdogs, anti-corruption and environmental NGOs, especially those that have the knowledge and resources enabling them to take issues outside the borders of the country where the means of asserting rights are increasingly limited, can exercise a certain degree of control over the executive (e.g. by making complaints to international bodies, litigating before international judicial forums, or simply by providing information to the international community). For this reason, the attack on independent civil society was a logical step in this process.
Our paper “Attacks against civil society in the framework of building an ‘illiberal democracy’ in Hungary” describes in detail the “starve and strangle” policies used by the Hungarian government and the governing majority to shrink the space for free civil society organisations in the country. This included (and continues to include) smear campaigns and rhetorical attempts of intimidation, hindering the work of NGOs for example by denying them access to institutions, and adopting laws threatening NGOs with stigmatization or the prospect of criminal sanctions for doing their job.
The paper also provides an overview of how the process of taking over all the existing control mechanisms was carried out by the ruling party behind a smoke screen of propaganda, depicting Hungary and its government at war against different external forces trying to damage the country.
The paper can be downloaded here: