Strong Personalities’ Impact on Hungarian Party Politics: Viktor Orbán and Gábor Vona

  • Rudolf MetzEmail author
  • Daniel Oross
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Psychology book series (PSPP)


Since the democratic transition of 1989–1990 Hungarian politics produced a clear shift in the process of personalization and presidentialization over the years. The growing autonomy of party leaders highlights the role of leadership and the necessity of studies written about their characteristics and behaviors in office. This chapter compares Viktor Orbán, the longest-serving Hungarian party leader, and Gábor Vona, the former president of the radical right party Jobbik, based on their characteristics and behaviors as party leaders. Both leaders have driven their party through ideological transformation and their personality traits played an important role in achieving this. Although the impact of the two leaders on the Hungarian political landscape is very different, the comparison offers interesting insights for the understanding of the role of party leaders in Hungarian politics.


Populism Personalization Organizational transformation Political competition 



We wish to thank the editor of this book, our colleagues at the Institute for Political Science, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Róna Dániel, Assistant Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest and Amy Forster Rothbart Associate Professor and Department Chair of Political Science Department of Hartwick College for their helpful comments and suggestions. We also would like to thank our trainee, Botond Árpási for helping with data collection. The usual disclaimer applies.


The research was sponsored by Hungarian National Research Fund (no. K 128139).


  1. Batory, A. (2016). Populists in government? Hungary’s “system of national cooperation”. Democratization, 23(2), 283–303. Scholar
  2. Bayer, J. (2016). Media pluralism in Hungary. In P. Bárd & J. Bayer (Eds.), A comparative analysis of media freedom and pluralism in the EU member states (pp. 120–139). Brussels: European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs. Retrieved from Accessed 13 April 2018.
  3. Bíró-Nagy, A., & Boros, T. (2016). Jobbik going mainstream: Strategy shift of the far-right in Hungary. In J. Jerome (Ed.), L’extreme droite en Europe (pp. 243–263). Brussels: Bruylant.Google Scholar
  4. Debreczeni, J. (2003). Orbán Viktor (2, jav. kiadás). Budapest: Osiris.Google Scholar
  5. Dragomir, M. (2017, August 29). The state of Hungarian media: Endgame. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from
  6. Enyedi, Z. (2005). The role of agency in cleavage formation. European Journal of Political Research, 44(5), 697–720. Scholar
  7. Enyedi, Z. (2016a). Paternalist populism and illiberal elitism in Central Europe. Journal of Political Ideologies, 21(1), 9–25. Scholar
  8. Enyedi, Z. (2016b). Populist polarization and party system institutionalization: The role of party politics in de-democratization. Problems of Post-Communism, 63(4), 210–220. Scholar
  9. Gherghina, S. (2014). Party organization and electoral volatility in Central and Eastern Europe: Enhancing voter loyalty. Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harmel, R., & Svåsand, L. (1993). Party leadership and party institutionalisation: Three phases of development. West European Politics, 16(2), 67–88. Scholar
  11. Hloušek, V. (2015). Two types of presidentialization in the party politics of Central Eastern Europe. Italian Political Science Review [Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica], 45(3), 277–299. Scholar
  12. Horváth, A., & Soós, G. (2015). Pártok és pártrendszer. In A. Körösényi (Ed.), A magyar politikai rendszer – negyedszázad után (pp. 249–278). Budapest: MTA TK - Osiris.Google Scholar
  13. Illés, G., Körösényi, A., & Metz, R. (2018). Broadening the limits of reconstructive leadership: Constructivist elements of Viktor Orbán’s regime-building politics. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 20(4), 790–808. Scholar
  14. Illonszki, G., & Várnagy, R. (2014). Stable leadership in the context of party change: The Hungarian case. In J.-B. Pilet & W. P. Cross (Eds.), The selection of political party leaders in contemporary parliamentary democracies: A comparative study (pp. 156–171). London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  15. Janke, I. (2013). Hajrá, Magyarok! az Orbán Viktor-sztori egy lengyel újságíró szemével. Budapest, Hungary: Rézbong Kiadó.Google Scholar
  16. Karácsony, G., & Róna, D. (2011). The Secret of Jobbik. Reasons behind the Rise of the Hungarian Radical Right. Journal of East European & Asian Studies, 2(1), 61–92.Google Scholar
  17. Kiss, B. (2016). Orbán, Vona, Gyurcsány. Politikai vezetők integrációs tevékenysége a migrációs válság idején. Politikatudományi Szemle, 25(3), 10–32.Google Scholar
  18. Körösényi, A. (2013). Political polarization and its consequences on democratic accountability. Corvinus Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 4(2).
  19. Körösényi, A., Ondré, P., & Hajdú, A. (2017). A ‘meteoric’ career in Hungarian politics. Applying the leadership capital index. In M. Bennister, B. Worthy, & P. ’t Hart (Eds.), The leadership capital index: A new perspective on political leadership (1st ed., pp. 82–100). Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Körösényi, A., & Patkós, V. (2017). Variations for inspirational leadership: The incumbency of Berlusconi and Orbán. Parliamentary Affairs, 70(3), 611–632. Scholar
  21. Körösényi, A., Tóth, C., & Török, G. (2009). The Hungarian political system (1st ed.). Budapest: Hungarian Center for Democracy Studies Foundation.Google Scholar
  22. Kovarek, D., Róna, D., Hunyadi, B., & Kreko, P. (2017). Scapegoat-based policy making in Hungary: Qualitative evidence for how Jobbik and its mayors govern municipalities. Intersections, 3(3), 63–87.
  23. Kovarek, D., & Soós, G. (2016). Hungary: Cut from the same cloth? A comparative analysis of party organizations in Hungary. In K. Sobolewska-Myślik, B. Kosowska-Gąstoł, P. Borowiec, & Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego (Eds.), Organizational structures of political parties in Central and Eastern European countries (pp. 185–208). Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Metz, R. (2015). Movement entrepreneurship of an incumbent party. The story of the Hungarian incumbent party Fidesz and the civil cooperation forum. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics, 1(3), 81–100.
  25. Orbán, V. (2006). 20 év: beszédek, írások, interjúk 1986–2006. Budapest: Heti Válasz.Google Scholar
  26. Orbán, V., & Kéri, L. (1994). Orbán Viktor. Budapest: Századvég Kiadó.Google Scholar
  27. Origo. (2011, September 6). ‘Arra figyeljenek, amit csinálok’ - Orbán reagált a róla szóló WikiLeaks-iratra. Retrieved from
  28. Pakulski, J., & Körösényi, A. (2012). Toward leader democracy. London: Anthem Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Palonen, E. (2009). Political polarisation and populism in contemporary Hungary. Parliamentary Affairs, 62(2), 318–334. Scholar
  30. Pappas, T. S. (2014). Populist democracies: Post-authoritarian greece and post-communist Hungary. Government and Opposition, 49(1), 1–23. Scholar
  31. Pirro, A. (2019a). Ballots and barricades enhanced: Far-right ‘movement parties’ and movement-electoral interactions—Ballots and barricades enhanced. Nations and Nationalism. Scholar
  32. Pirro, A. (2019b). Lo and behold: Jobbik and the crafting of a new Hungarian far-right. In M. Caiani & O. Císař (Eds.), Radical right ‘movement parties’ in Europe (pp. 151–167). Abingdon, Oxon and New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Róbert, P., & Papp, Z. (2012). Kritikus választás? Pártos elkötelezettség és szavazói viselkedés a 2010-es országgyűlési választáson. In Z. Boda & A. Körösényi (Eds.), Van irány? Trendek a magyar politikában. Új Mandátum Kiadó: Budapest.Google Scholar
  34. Róna, D. (2015). Jobbik-jelenség: A Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom népszerűségének okai (PhD dissertaion). Budapest.Google Scholar
  35. Róna, D. (2016). Jobbik-jelenség: a Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom térnyerésének okai. Budapest: Könyv & Kávé.Google Scholar
  36. Sartori, G. (2005). Parties and party systems: A framework for analysis. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
  37. Vona, G. (2011). Született augusztus 20-án. Budapest: Magyar Hírek.Google Scholar
  38. Vona, G. (2013). Fekete bárány, fehér holló. Budapest: Magyar Hírek.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Political SciencesHungarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social SciencesBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations