Rebuilding the Hungarian Right through Civil Organization and Contention

Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library
Starting in 2010, the Fidesz party achieved in a row six (partly landslide) victories at municipal, national, and European Parliament elections. Not questioning other explanations, my ongoing research traces the remarkable resilience of the ruling party above all to earlier “tectonic” shifts in civil society, which helped the Right accumulate ample social capital well before its political triumph. This process was decisively advanced by the Civic Circles Movement founded by Viktor Orbán after the lost election of 2002. This movement was militant in terms of its hegemonic aspirations and collective practices; massive in terms of its membership and activism; middle-cIass based in terms of social stratification; and dominantly metropolitan and urban on the spatial dimension. Parallel to contentious mobilization, the civic circles re-organized and extended the Right’s grass-roots networks, associations, and media; rediscovered and reinvented its holidays and everyday life-styles, symbols, and heroes; and explored innovative ways for cultural, charity, leisure, and political activities. Leading activists, among them patriots, priests, professionals, politicians, and pundits, offered new frames and practices for Hungarians to feel, think, and act as members of “imagined communities”: the nation, Christianity, citizenry, and Europe.

Béla Greskovits is University Professor at the Department of International Relations, and Department of Political Science, at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. His research interests are the political economy of East-Central European capitalism, comparative economic development, social movements, and democratization. His articles appeared in Studies in Comparative and International Development, Labor History, Orbis, West European Politics, Competition and Change, Journal of Democracy, European Journal of Sociology, Global Policy, and Transfer: European Review of Labor and Research. His lates book, Capitalist Diversity on Europe’s Periphery, written together with Dorothee Bohle, was published by Cornell University Press, and was awarded the prestigious 2013 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research. He was winner of the 2014 CEU Award for Outstanding Research (with Dorothee Bohle), and the 2014 Bibó István Prize of the Hungarian Political Science Association.

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