Hungary is experiencing a rise in digital authoritarianism, driven by the government’s efforts to suppress critical voices, including independent media, civil society organizations, and grassroots movements. The government uses digital technologies to divide society, create fear, and promote the ruling Fidesz party’s narrative as the only truth. This strategy is rooted in the government’s identity politics and nation-building tactics.
The report discusses how Hungary’s economic, social, and political history shape its society, and how the ruling party exploits these characteristics for political gain. Since Fidesz took power, there have been consistent reports of democratic erosion, including attacks on civil society and judicial independence. Despite these concerns, Fidesz has remained in power for over a decade.
The use of digital technologies to advance authoritarian trends, while not initially the primary tool, has grown in recent years. The report categorizes the manifestations of digital authoritarianism into three areas: control over critical digital infrastructure, silencing dissenting voices, and using law to undermine rights. These methods harm both individual and collective human rights.
The government’s primary method of advancing digital authoritarianism is through legislative procedures. With a two-thirds parliamentary majority, it can change the constitution and pass laws without significant public oversight. The government has criminalized fake news, potentially censored online content, and attempted to regulate social media platforms. Additionally, the use of commercial surveillance software, like Pegasus, has been added to the government’s digital authoritarianism practices due to weak surveillance laws and lack of independent oversight.