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The Hungarian Patient
Social Opposition to an Illiberal Democracy

Edited by Péter Krasztev and Jon Van Til

Péter Krasztev is social anthropologist and Associate Professor at the Budapest Business School (BGF).
Jon Van Til is Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Community Planning at Rutgers University, Camden.

The book offers a panoramic overview of the constitutional, political, social and ideational changes in Hungary. The volume also provides a kaleidoscopic analytical frame for the study of the dynamics of political change drawing on concepts from social movement studies, comparative politics, political sociology, gender studies and constitutionalism.

“The volume offers thorough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of domestic democratic agency in Hungary, highlighting in several different ways the perils of political polarization. As the editors, wisely, do not try to impose a unified analytical frame on the study of a still emerging political arrangement, the volume can serve both as a collection of background readings rich in details, and, as a textbook opulent with alternative frames to grasp authoritarian trends and anti-authoritarian movements in contemporary Hungary.” - László Bruszt, Department of Social and Political Sciences, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

“This book will take its place as the definitive work on the contemporary social-political scene in Hungary. Issues of democracy, pluralism, and participation are being closely monitored throughout the world, and Hungary’s retreat from these values is of vital importance.” - Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, Bulgaria

Contents (download in pdf)

410 pages, 2015
ISBN 978-615-5053-08-5 HB $60.00 / €52.00 / £40.00
ISBN 978-615-5053-05-4 PB $35.00 / €31.00 / £23.99

"This volume has two big virtues. First, it covers a broad range of issues. Fidesz’s efforts to centralize political power are well described but have already been documented in even greater detail elsewhere. What is new and fascinating are the chapters documenting Fidesz’s attempts to recast state-society relations and the ways in which society has responded.
The second virtue is that the chapters that attempt to interpret what is happening in Hungary from a broader perspective provide a much-needed corrective to the simplistic view, voiced even by the editors in the preface, that Hungary has simply abandoned democracy. All three chapters rightly distinguish between the indisputably illiberal majoritarian democracy Fidesz has fashioned and the openly dictatorial regimes that have taken root in some other post-communist countries." - Slavic Review

"The Hungarian Patient should be compulsory reading for all Europeans, at least for those engaged in policy making and in Civil Society. In an alarming way, this book shows to which end the rightist takeover leads: to a complete deconstruction of liberal democracies..." - Nonprofit Policy Forum

"Fidesz’s dominance is (was) unprecedented. And what makes the phenomenon even more interesting is that the events leading up to Fidesz’s 2010 electoral victory were democratic. The book is not just about Hungary’s electoral backslide, but rather the democratic emergence of an illiberal party.
The strength of this edited book is its depth: With one exception, the contributors are interested in the details of one single case: Hungary." - Taiwan Journal of Democracy

"This book stands out among the recent publications on Hungary. Discussing Hungary as a ‘patient’, the book is divided into a diagnosis (analysing the changes introduced by Fidesz), various symptoms (addressing social problems and marginalisation in Hungarian society, often with a long-term perspective), immune reactions (movements and parties that organise protests and resistance to Fidesz) and future perspectives. Every chapter within these sections discusses a different topic or field, though there is some overlap, as patterns of discrimination and roots of opposition groups are similar.
Any reader willing to make their way through, even those well-versed in Hungarian politics, will encounter a myriad of interesting ideas and previously unknown facts." - Europe-Asia Studies