The Hollowing Out of Democracy: Hungary and Beyond

March 01, 2016
04:00 pm - 05:30 pm

About the Event

Following the revolutions of 1989 that brought down communism in Central Europe, it appeared that the region was on the path to the consolidation of liberal democracy. This optimism, however, may have been too hopeful, as a number of governments in Central Europe have taken a turn toward illiberal democracy in recent years. In his new book, Post-Communist Mafia State, Dr. Bálint Magyar explores how, in Hungary, the ruling Fidesz party has removed key institutional checks on power and has rigged the system to ensure a favored few receive the most rewards. Please join us as Dr. Magyar discusses how democracy is being hollowed out in Hungary and the region. Arch Puddington will provide comments.


Bálint Magyar, Financial Research Institute, Hungary, Former Minister, Hungarian Government

with comments by

Arch Puddington, Freedom House 

moderated by

Rodger Potocki, National Endowment for Democracy

to celebrate the publication of

Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungarywritten by Bálint Magyar and published by Central European University Press

National Endowment for Democracy
1025 F Street NW, Suite 800 
Washington, DC 20004

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About the Speakers

Bálint Magyar is a senior researcher at the Financial Research Institute in Budapest, Hungary. A former Minister of Education and Culture (1996-1998), Minister of Education and Science (2002-2006), and Member of Parliament (1990-2010), Dr. Magyar has a long history as a democracy activist. From 1988 to 1990, he took part in the negotiations that led to Hungary’s transition to democracy and was a founding member of the Alliance of Free Democrats. After leaving the Hungarian parliament in 2010, Dr. Magyar worked for Unicef, Open Society Foundations, and European Roma Rights Center in different capacities to enhance education reform in several countries in Eastern Europe. From 2011 to 2014, he took part in missions supporting the democratic transition in Libya and Tunisia for the National Democratic Institute. He is currently serving as an Open Society Foundation Fellow.

Arch Puddington is senior vice president for research at Freedom House, where he is responsible for the publication of Freedom in the World and other research publications, and for the development of new research and advocacy programs. He previously worked as research director for the A. Philip Randolph Institute, as executive director for the League for Industrial Democracy, and as a bureau manager for Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty. He writes frequently on international affairs, race relations, organized labor, and the Cold War. His writings have appeared in Commentary, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, National Interest, and the Journal of Democracy. He is the author of three books: Failed Utopias: Methods of Coercion in Communist Societies (ICS, 1989), Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (University Press of Kentucky, 2000), and Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor (Wiley, 2005).