Senior Core Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University, Budapest
The Polish election results of 2015 seem to have brought Hungarian and Polish development into synchronicity again, a congruence that is apparent throughout history. A first glance may give the impression that we are dealing with regimes of identical nature. The authoritarian politics practiced by Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS) and Viktor Orbán (Fidesz) are characterized by a similar tendency to eliminate autonomous social forces and control mechanisms, as well as the application of similar ideological frames. But beneath the surface similarities these are attempts at establishing different types of autocratic regimes. Orbán’s regime, which can be defined as a post-communist mafia state, is built on the twin motivations of power centralization and family accumulation of wealth; the subject of its power is the adopted political family freed of the limitations posed by formal institutions. Kaczyński’s regime is better described as a conservative-autocratic experiment driven by ambitions of power and ideological inclinations.
Bálint Magyar (1952) is a sociologist and a liberal politician. He obtained his degrees in sociology and history at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Between 1977 and 1990 he was studying the post-war social and economic history of Eastern European countries at various research institutes. An activist of the anti-communist dissident movement since 1979, he became one of the founding members and leaders of the Hungarian Liberal Party (SZDSZ). Magyar was a member of parliament between 1990 and 2010, and served as Minister of Education in 1996–98 and 2002–6. Between 2008 and 2012 he was a member of the governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Since 2010 he has been a senior researcher at the Financial Research Institute. Currently he is a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University.