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Fukuyama Asks Budapest Mayor Karácsony About Situation in Hungary

Júlia Tar 2021.09.22.

American Purpose, a magazine that aims “to defend and promote liberal democracy in the United States,” organized a Zoom conference called “Continuing Liberty” Conference: “Liberal Democracy in Central Europe.” Budapest mayor and one of the candidates for prime minister of the joint opposition, Gergely Karácsony, was one of the guests who was asked about Hungary’s situation by the famous political scientist and political economist, Francis Fukuyama.

It’s a great honor to be on the same podium with Mayor Karácsony, somebody that’s actually doing something to stop the spread of the illiberal ideology in Europe,”

Fukuyama began. He then asked whether there was a real chance that the opposition would replace Viktor Orbán’s administration in next year’s elections, despite the political and electoral system favoring Fidesz. He added, however, that Karácsony is the mayor of Budapest so “there seems to be some opportunity and space for some alternative political voices.”


Karácsony participated in the discussion with a simultaneous translation. It was already news before that he does not speak English but, according to him, he has “hyper passive” language skills. However, he recently gave a speech in English to prove his developing skills.

Karácsony also said that it is a major honor that he can talk to Professor Fukuyama, adding that he read a lot of his books and his ideas have inspired him. (Karácsony was a political scientist as well before starting a career as a politician). He believes the Hungarian voting system is very anti-democratic and a “textbook example” of people and parties needing at least two election cycles to adapt to a new electoral system. So now, right before the third election since the new electoral law of 2011, the opposition has united and will be running with one candidate against Fidesz. This is achieved through the primaries, which are based on the active involvement of voters, and the mayor said that despite all the systemic disadvantages, this set-up gives the opposition a chance to defeat Fidesz in the 2022 elections, Karácsony explained.

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According to Karácsony, the Orbán government could be a “world champion in creating tensions on its own.” Hungary is constantly at war with the European Union, at war with various international actors, which keeps the system in constant tension and legitimizes the restriction of democratic rules of the game, Karácsony said. Other than the upcoming elections and the European Union, such topics were mentioned as the contrasts between the government and the opposition municipalities, and the state’s cutbacks to opposition-led local governments during the epidemic.

The full conference can be seen below:

Sources: Telex, 24.hu

Featured image: screen capture from American Purpose’s conference/24.hu