Monday 22 February 2021

Ágnes Kövér, Attila Antal and Izabella Deák: Civil Society and COVID-19 in Hungary: The Complete Annexation of Civil Space

Please cite in this way: Kövér, Ágnes, Antal, Attila and Deák, Izabella. "Civil Society and COVID-19 in Hungary: The Complete Annexation of Civil Space" Nonprofit Policy Forum, vol. , no. , 2021.

The paper examines the CSOs – government relations during the COVID-19 pandemic, first introducing how the pandemic affected the already authoritarian regime in Hungary and how this regime utilized the epidemic to extend and fortify its power. Then the paper presents the antecedents of the relationship between civil society and government in the frame of the National System of Cooperation (NSC). This relationship is unilaterally dominated by the government, and it may appear as a “4C strategy”: Cooptation, Coercion, Crowding out, Creation (the creation of a new, loyal civil society). Exploring the civil society and government relations during the pandemic, the study will conclude that there was no government attempt to coordinate the activities of CSOs or to try to harmonize sectoral cooperation from a broader perspective. The occurrences demonstrated the explosion of solidarity and the carnival of solidarity. These forms of solidarity, however, remain informal and leave deepening structural problems untouched. The paper presents the results of an empirical research which was conducted between March and September of 2020. The nodal points of the research include the resilience and flexibility of the organizations, their efforts to assist during the emergency and lockdown, as well as the issues of networking and the nature of their relations with the national and local authorities.