Thursday 26 November 2020

Central and Eastern Europe in Post-Communism (Online Interdisciplinary Research Workshop): The Permanent State of Exception Before and After the COVID-19 Crisis in Hungary

The regime change in Central and Eastern Europe (1989-1990) brought a series of challenges and developments in the region. Three decades of post-communism indicate a very high dynamic in political, economic, social and historical terms. In many countries the transition to democracy was difficult, the role of civil society changed over time, the conventional and contentious politics went in different directions, the economic hardships occurred more often than anticipated, and the social problems took various forms. In addition to these general trends, specific issues such as corruption, migration, border security, poverty, or the EU and NATO accession make the entire picture complex. Extensive research made an attempt to explain the post-communist developments. This workshop aims to contribute to the existing knowledge by looking at causes, functioning or consequences of both general and specific issues. 

My research topic was the following: The Permanent State of Exception Before and After the COVID-19 Crisis in Hungary

There have been two overlapping kinds of state of exceptions in effect in Hungary, moreover upon the COVID-19 crisis the Orbán regime is preparing the institutionalization of the third one. Analysing the Hungarian situation, I am arguing here that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated this procedure, but it has started before. On the one hand, the extraordinary measures in normal circumstances are far not unknown in Hungary since the migration crisis of 2015. Moreover, the Orbán regime is constantly using the extraordinary measures since 2015 to maintain the political power. On the other hand, Orbán used the pandemic situation to accept the so-called Enabling Law, which is seemingly withdrawn, in fact the extraordinary measures remain in force. The real danger is not just the indefinite power of Orbán, but the fact that he gained nearly half a decade of experience in exceptional governance maintain the class compromise behind the regime.