The Changing Dimensions of the post-2010 Hungarian Political Economy and the Emergence of Hungarian Authoritarian Populism

  • Samuel Rogers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the nature of Hungary’s governments since 2010. Winning an unprecedented three consecutive elections, the dominant member of the coalition governments, Fidesz, has operated to entrench its power by means of transformations in domestic governance, international economic policy and appeals to xenophobic nationalism. A widening scholarly literature has sought to account for the nature of the post-2010 Hungarian regime by focusing largely on the domestic changes, the country’s relationship with the European Union and what these mean for Hungary in a regional context. In contrast, this thesis blends Stuart Hall’s work on authoritarian populism and the Varieties of Capitalism tradition with a concern for Hungary’s changing external economic-political relations. The result is a model that is both post-structural and institutional in approach and this effectively captures the specifics of Fidesz’ self-reproduction.

The thesis’ principal argument is that the Hungarian government has developed two methods to service this objective. First, the subsumption of domestic business through the creation of a local, politically-loyal network of cronies who safeguard national capital. Second, the stimulation of transnational capital linked to ideologically similar regimes from ‘the East’: Russia and China. The outcomes of these endeavours, the thesis argues, strengthens the hybridised nature of the Fidesz regime and its potential for proliferation to regional neighbours, particularly Poland.

Empirically, this research analyses infrastructure projects financed by state loans from Russian and Chinese entities, with a particular focus on the Paks II nuclear power plant extension and the upgrade to the Belgrade to Budapest railway line. It uses a Qualitative Case Study Analysis approach to qualitative data collection, conducted during fieldwork in Budapest in 2017. Additionally, it draws on specialist publications that contain otherwise inaccessible datasets on the relevant investments and infrastructure agreements.
Date of Award25 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMagnus Feldmann (Supervisor) & Jeffrey Henderson (Supervisor)

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