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Hungary: Crisis as Usual—Populist Governance and the Pandemic


Populists in Hungary had to manage the crisis from government position. Orbán has shown strong leadership during the crisis and dominated the political context of the issue. However, the usual elements of the ‘populist myth’ characterizing Orbán’s and Fidesz’s ordinary communication were adopted to interpret and frame the COVID-19 crisis. Within this narrative, the leader and its people together fight for ‘the Hungarians’ national interests and freedom against the interconnected international and national enemies who seriously threat these interests and freedom for their own political and economic benefits. The pro-government political and media actors’ communication were characterized by strong people-centrism, criticism towards the EU and the international ‘liberal mainstream’ including NGOs and media, and polarizing narratives that presented opposition actors as serving foreign political interests. As a reversed form of politicization, any criticism coming from social or political actors was immediately labelled as ‘political’.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-66011-6_7
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Fig. 1

(Source European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Phase 1: pre-COVID-19; Phase 2: spread and containment measures; Phase 3: contagion mitigation)


  1. 1.

    E.g. Standard Eurobarometer 92, November 2019, Hungarian country report.

  2. 2.

    Radio Kossuth, 04/17/2020.

  3. 3.

    see, About Hungary: Here is the latest national consultation questionnaire in English

  4. 4.

    Rádió Kossuth, 02/28/2020.


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Correspondence to Zsolt Boda .

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Bene, M., Boda, Z. (2021). Hungary: Crisis as Usual—Populist Governance and the Pandemic. In: Bobba, G., Hubé, N. (eds) Populism and the Politicization of the COVID-19 Crisis in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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