Orbán's Hungary - The Most Illiberal Democracy in the EU

Hungary began its transition to democracy when it held its first free parliamentary elections in May 1990. Viktor Orbán served his first term as Prime Minister from 1998-2002, and then Hungary was welcomed into the European Union in 2004. However, especially since Orbán began his second term as PM in 2010, the Fidesz political party has moved away from its original centre-right, classically liberal, pro-European integration platform, and has become a more right-wing national conservative party. Learn how and why this change of direction occurred, and how it has led Hungary to become the most illiberal democracy in the EU.

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


  • Paul Lendvai, Orbán: Europe’s New Strongman (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • Paul Lendvai, Hungary: Between Democracy and Authoritarianism (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012).


  • Socialist Hungary: Its role within the Eastern Bloc.
  • Post-Socialist Hungary: From democracy to membership of the European Union.
  • Hungary under Orbán: The shift toward illiberal democracy.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the broad contours of the history of Hungary within the Eastern Bloc.
  2. Comprehend the significance of the beginnings of democracy in 1990, and admission to the EU in 2004.
  3. Appreciate the nature of the shift towards illiberal democracy under Viktor Orbán’s leadership since 2010.

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