By Susan Rubin Suleiman
- Read the Full Text: Anti-Democratic Politics in Hungary: Viktor Orbán and “Illiberal Democracy”
Abstract: Hungary has been in the news lately, often mentioned as an example of “illiberal democracy,” a term coined by its current prime minister, Viktor Orbán. The idea of an illiberal democracy may seem like a contradiction in terms, but Orbán is proud of having coined the phrase, because the way he uses it, “illiberal” is the opposite of liberal or left-wing. He is happy to claim that Hungary is “illiberal” in that sense. But most independent commentators view Orbán’s version of illiberal democracy as a dangerous trend.
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Susan Rubin Suleiman was born in Budapest and emigrated to the U.S. as a child with her parents. She is the C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France Emerita and Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard University, where she joined the faculty in 1981. Her books include Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre, (1983; appeared simultaneously in French); Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the AvantGarde (1990); Crises of Memory and the Second World War (2006; translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese), and The Némirovsky Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in 20th Century France (2016; French translation 2017).