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Hungarian referendum driven by collapse of communism


As Hungary prepares to vote on the number of migrants allowed into the country, Brunel's Peter Wilkin says that the growth of far-right ideologies in the region since the fall of communism could pose profound problems for the European Union.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for a referendum on 2 October as his government seeks to put pressure on the EU to stop mandatory quotas of migrants in member countries.

The controversial move, which has been criticised across Europe, has been seen as an attempt to bolster support for an increasingly right-wing domestic campaign, while adverts broadcast on state television warn of a growing migrant menace.

It’s a scenario that Dr Wilkin, Reader in Sociology and Communication at Brunel University London, argues shouldn’t be seen as a case of Hungarian exceptionalism, but a situation driven by the broader political and economic context that has shaped post-communist Hungary since 1990.

The country, he says, was thrust into a form of capitalism that undermined the strong state and social security that existed in East and Central Europe under communism. Dr Wilkin added: “The political far-right in Hungary have seized the state at a time when progressive political parties have abandoned it. It should not come as a surprise that this has proven popular amongst an electorate facing economic insecurity and upheaval’

Dr Wilkin’s new book Hungary’s Crisis of Democracy, The Road to Serfdom explores two traditions of thought: world systems-analysis, which situates Hungary in the context of its incorporation in the modern capitalist world-system after the fall of communism; and anarchist social thought, which provides a unique way of seeing the actions of states and political elites.

More details about the book, which is published by Rowman & Littlefield, are available here.