Sunday 30 October 2016

The Political Theory and Paradoxes of the Governing Populism in Hungary

I am going to have a lecture at Northeastern Political Science Association’s 48th Annual Meeting on November 10 - 12, 2016, Boston, Panel: CPT-3 Foucault, Anarchy, and Biopolitics.


After the regime change the Hungarian politics can be characterized by emerging populist tendencies. Before 2010 the populist forces were opposition parties, the post-2010 period is the era of governing populism in Hungary and at the same time the biggest opposition party (the far-right Jobbik) is populist too.

It will be argued in my lecture that the (populist) political theory of the governing party alliance (Fidesz-KDNP) is based on three main pillars. (1) The first one is the concept of the Political and massive anti-liberalism elaborated by Carl Schmitt. Schmitt describes the depoliticisation tendencies caused by liberalism, he also argues that the bureaucratic nature of liberalism promotes law instead of politics. (2) The second pillar is the Weberian concept of leader democracy, which argues that the political leader, who is creative and charismatic, has a strong political responsibility. (3) The third pillar is political constitutionalism, which is a counter-theory of legal or liberal constitutionalism and points out that the political institutions (parliaments and governments) cannot be restricted by legal institutions, first of all judges or constitutional courts.

Which is common in these three theories is the repoliticisation. The populist governing parties accused the opposition and the European Union that their politics is anti-politics and bureaucratic, they cannot make political decision, thereby endanger the (Hungarian and European) political community. On one hand it can be a very successful political strategy, on the other hand making constantly enemies can destroy the political community.

According to my hypothesis the populist promise of political leadership is inherently false, because instead of repoliticisation, the populist forces are monopolizing the political representation and liquidating the political responsibility. My second hypothesis is dealing with the paradox nature of the current Hungarian governing populism: while the governing parties promise more Political and emerging influence of people on political decisions, it could be confusing that the Hungarian government excludes certain groups from politics (preventing the holding of referendums; starting political wars against NGOs). This is the paradox nature of the Hungarian governing populism: the governing parties would like to be seen as populist forces, but they are acting as elites. Furthermore this elitist populist approach is upheld by the pure political realism which is one of the main driving forces of the regime.


Hungary, Populism, Elitism, Viktor Orbán, the Political, Leader Democracy, Liberal and Legal Constitutionalism, Repoliticisation