As the democratic dream withers in many corners of the globe, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán stands as Exhibit A: After rising to the top leadership position in Hungary, Orbán worked to dismantle press freedoms and other checks and balances that enable democracy. In this study – part biography and part analysis – Hungarian-born journalist Paul Lendvai takes a deep dive into Orbán’s career. His conclusions are harsh: Orbán cares little about the rule of law or about the welfare of his people. Lendvai explains the long-standing grievances that helped foment the rise of the right in post-communist Hungary and explores how Orbán leveraged these forces to consolidate his power and undercut liberal values. This biography gives a detailed account of Hungary’s turn from democracy, but it can feel bloodless at times. Readers get little sense of Orbán the man or of his opponents. Quibbles aside, Lendvai delivers an up-to-date analysis of the political situation in Budapest. getAbstract recommends this study to anyone seeking thoughtful insight into Hungarian politics or the broader rise of populist nationalism.
About the Author
Paul Lendvai, a Hungarian-born journalist, is editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Europäische Rundschau, a Vienna-based international quarterly. He was the correspondent for Eastern Europe of the daily Die Presse and the Financial Times for 22 years. He has also contributed to The Economist and written columns for Austrian, German and Swiss newspapers and radio stations.