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Europe's Illiberal Democrats: Hungary

Hungary is becoming an "illiberal democracy", in the words of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Is that its democratic right, or the path to autocracy, asks Naomi Grimley.

Hungary is becoming an “illiberal democracy”, in the words of its Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Is that the country’s democratic right, or the path to autocracy, asks Naomi Grimley.

Hungary’s media landscape has been changed, with most newspapers and broadcasters now indirectly controlled by people close to the ruling party. The leading opposition paper was shut down overnight. Following a new law, Budapest’s highly respected Central European University fears for its survival in Hungary, as it is “a free institution in a regime that is not sympathetic to free institutions,” says its rector. The government has changed the constitution, electoral law, and refused to take its EU-allocated quota of refugees, while warning of a “Muslim invasion”. The government spokesman insists that avoiding “mass immigration” is Hungary’s right, and that it is merely helping to protect Europe’s Christian culture and heritage: “we want to stay as we are, a Christian continent”.

The European parliament is so concerned about the perceived breaches of EU values that it has launched a procedure that could culminate in Hungary’s EU voting rights being withdrawn. Yet Hungary feels it is on the right path, a path that others should follow.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius

Photo: People protest in front of lines of the police officers at the parliament building at Budapest on April 4, 2017. Hungarian lawmakers approved legislation that could force the closure of a prestigious Budapest university founded by US billionaire investor George Soros, sparking fresh protests. The English-language Central European University (CEU), set up in 1991 after the fall of communism, has long been seen as a hostile bastion of liberalism by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government.

Credit: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

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Mon 20 Nov 2017 06:06GMT

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