Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary

Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary

Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary

Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary


Bálint Magyar is a liberal politician and independent sociologist Having won a two-third majority in Parliament at the 2010 elections, the Hungarian political party Fidesz removed many of the institutional obstacles of exerting power. Just like the party, the state itself was placed under the control of a single individual, who since then has applied the techniques used within his party to enforce submission and obedience onto society as a whole. In a new approach the author characterizes the system as the ‘organized over-world’, the ‘state employing mafia methods’ and the ’adopted political family', applying these categories not as metaphors but elements of a coherent conceptual framework.

The actions of the post-communist mafia state model are closely aligned with the interests of power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a small group of insiders. While the traditional mafia channeled wealth and economic players into its spheres of influence by means of direct coercion, the mafia state does the same by means of parliamentary legislation, legal prosecution, tax authority, police forces and secret service. The innovative conceptual framework of the book is important and timely not only for Hungary, but also for other post-communist countries subjected to autocratic rules.


Many international observers have been puzzled about Hungary. Hungary was once the star of the post-1989 transition. It was the first in the region to rewrite its constitution to embrace democratic values. It had a steady string of free and fair elections from 1990 through 2010 with regular alternation of governments between left and right. Hungary experienced the largest inward flow of foreign direct investment in post-communist Europe and one of the least chaotic economic transitions. International NGOs put their East-Central European headquarters in Budapest, which was widely regarded as the most stable and sympathetic home for civil society groups in the region. Hungary’s 2003 referendum on joining the European Union chalked up 84% for the “yes” camp. The country entered the EU in 2004 after it had sailed through external assessments that showed that it was properly a democracy that respected the rule of law, protected human rights and boasted a stable market economy.

In fact, Hungary became the very model of a “consolidated democracy,” defined by Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan (who was himself living in Budapest at the time) as:

Behaviorally, a democratic regime in a territory is consolidated when
no significant national, social, economic, political, or institutional
actors spend significant resources attempting to achieve their objec
tives by creating a nondemocratic regime or by seceding from the

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