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Freedom House Report: Hungary’s Status Changes from Free to Partly Free

Fanni Kaszás 2019.02.06.

This week, US-based nonprofit Freedom House released the 2019 edition of its annual “Freedom in the World” report, which examines the state of democracy, political rights, and civil liberties throughout the world. While Hungary was ranked as ‘Free’ last year, the country’s status fell to ‘Partly Free’ in 2018.

According to the report, a total of 68 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties during 2018, with only 50 registering gains. Hungary is one of the countries showing a significant decline. With just 70 points out of 100, its status changed from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free.’

green: free; yellow: partly free; purple: not free (photo: Freedom House)

Freedom House explains the change on its website by stating that “Hungary’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to sustained attacks on the country’s democratic institutions by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, which has used its parliamentary super-majority to impose restrictions on or assert control over the opposition, the media, religious groups, academia, NGOs, the courts, asylum seekers, and the private sector since 2010.”

This is not the first year that Hungary has received a critical appraisal from Freedom House. The country has dropped more than 20 points, dubbed

the most dramatic decline ever charted by Freedom House within the European Union

in the group’s World Freedom index over the past decade under PM Orbán’s presidency.

Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, claims “we have seen democratic institutions gradually succumb to sustained pressure elsewhere in the world in places like Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela. Antidemocratic rhetoric and the rejection of democratic constraints on power can be first steps toward real restrictions on freedom.”

Freedom in the World 2019 documents the weakening of democratic norms around the world, especially regarding elections and the human rights of migrants. The past year was the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The share of ‘Not Free’ countries has increased over this period and a crisis of confidence in long-standing democracies has intensified. As part of this year’s report, Freedom House also offered a special assessment of the state of democracy in the United States midway through President Donald Trump’s term.