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Zsuzsanna Szelenyi: Tainted Democracy

Hungary, once the poster-child of liberal democracy, is fast becoming an autocracy under Viktor Orban. After winning an absolute majority in 2010, he launched a series of ‘reforms’, fundamentally undermining the country’s twenty-year, post-Cold War liberal consensus. For supporters and foes alike, the rise of Hungary’s prime minister is a vivid example of how democracy can be subverted from within.

Zsuzsanna Szelenyi, Program Director of the CEU Democracy Institute Leadership Academy, was a leading member of Orban’s Fidesz party in its early years, has witnessed first-hand the party’s shift from liberalism to populist nationalism. Offering an insider’s account of Fidesz’s evolution since its creation, she explains how the party rose to leadership of the country under Orban and made sweeping legal, political and economic changes to solidify its grip on power–from reining in the public media to slashing the number of parliamentary seats. She answers a key question: why has Orban been so successful, winning widespread support within Hungary and wielding considerable influence in European politics?

Underpinned by Zsuzsanna Szelenyi’s own experiences at the heart of Hungarian politics, Tainted Democracy offers accessible, nuanced insights into the global rise of populist autocracy, and how it can be challenged.

Learn more about the book here.