fbpx
+49 (0) 30 40792791 info@new-perspectives-travel.com

An Illiberal Democracy in Europe:

Understanding Orban’s Hungary

An Illiberal Democracy in Europe: Understanding Orban’s Hungary 

Following a campaign almost exclusively focussed on immigration, in 2018 Victor Orban secured an overwhelming victory in Hungary’s election. To what extent have the fears of his opponents and hopes of his followers been realised? What are the consequences for both Hungary and Europe?

Following a campaign almost exclusively focussed on immigration, Victor Orban secured an overwhelming victory in Hungary’s 2018 election. To what extent have the fears of his opponents and hopes of his followers been realised? What are the consequences for both Hungary and Europe?

Departure Dates

17 – 22 March 2019
5 – 10 May 2019

Length

6 days/ 5 nights

Start/End

Budapest, Hungary

Language

English

Included

All in-country costs*

An Illiberal Democracy in Europe: 

Understanding Orban's Hungary

Victor Orban has become an iconic and highly controversial political figure in both Hungary and abroad. To many, Orban – the archetypal populist- is a villain whose policies and beliefs are eliminating liberal democracy and its basic principles of human rights and the rule of law. The 2018 election campaign was accused of widespread xenophobia, scaremongering and overt anti-Semitism. His Fidesz party is taking control of most of the organs of the state and Orban himself declares that he is creating an “illiberal democracy”. He is also viewed as a model by other populists in Europe and beyond.   

Others celebrate him as one of the few “honest politicians”, who offers a real alternative to the failings and false promises of liberal democracy. One of the clearest illustrations of this fundamental clash of values occurred with the building of fences along the Southern Border during the large scale movement of refugees through Europe from 2015 onwards, leading to widespread international condemnation. While the “elites” of Europe disdain him, many – especially in working class communities – adore him as the “real European leader” who has the guts to go beyond “political correctness” and offers leadership to “defend” Europe against the evils of globalization.

Hungary’s liberal version of communism (“goulash communism”) prior to the 1989/90 changes which swept through Central and Eastern Europe, meant that it was at the forefront in introducing liberal democracy. Ironically, 25 + years later, Hungary once again finds itself on the political cutting-edge, but this time in dismantling liberal democracy. How is this possible? What has happened? Where will this end up?

This tour offers a unique insight into the workings of the Orban regime and modern Hungary. Why is it still popular? What drives it? Is it still a democracy? How do the key recipes of Victor Orban’s political cookbook (populism, nationalism, anti-elitism, Christianity, xenophobia, etc.) work? How do they compare with those of Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Kaczynski in Poland and Trump in America? Why are the Open Society Foundations – established by Hungarian George Soros – relocating from Budapest?

Led by Dr. Miklos Marschall, we will explore these issues with a wide range of eminent Hungarian and non-Hungarian experts – academics, current and past politicians, journalists, artists and business people. We will visit key institutions, think tanks and NGOs to dig deeper into particular issues which are closely linked to the current debates in Hungary, such as corruption, migration and Roma integration.

As well as providing you with unrivalled political insights into modern-day Hungary, you will also have the chance to enjoy a great selection of Hungarian culture, including classical- and folk-music (after all this is the country of Bela Bartok), architecture and gastronomy.

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

Over dinner wine with Miklos Marschall and his friends at his home in Budapest, we will be introduced to the key issues and programme for the coming days. Good Hungarian wine included!

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 2

On the first day of our tour, we will seek to get the overall perspective of the current situation. We will start by looking at the historical context of Orban’s ideas and aspirations through a conversation with Professor Andras Gerő, a distinguished historian and director of the Habsburg Institute in Budapest.

Over lunch we will discuss the key features of “illiberal democracy” with prominent Hungarian political commentators of both the liberal and conservative “sides”. After lunch we will walk over to the Petofi Literary Museum and meet with its director, Gergely Prohle, chair of the Board of the Andrassy University and former cabinet-member of Mr. Orban, as well as former ambassador of Hungary to Germany, to discuss with him the right wing-left wing political divide in Hungary. This will be followed by a tour of the museum itself.

In the evening we will have the opportunity to attend a concert in the beautiful Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, followed by an after concert dinner with some Budapest artists.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 3

We will start day 3 with a roundtable discussion about “Where Hungary goes” with leading political analysts and commentators including CEU Professor Andras Bozoki, former Minister of Culture, and others from the field of economics, media and law. 

We will have lunch with BBC correspondent Nick Thorpe resident in Budapest to get an external perspective on the situation in Hungary. In the afternoon, we will visit the Budapest Synagogue: the largest in Central-Europe, followed by a conversation about antisemitism with representatives of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz).

Evening cruise on the Danube with former mayor of Budapest, Gabor Demszky.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 4

On day 4 we will go an all day trip to Asotthalom and Kecskemet. Asotthalom is a village at the Hungarian-Serbian border and received widespread international media attention at the peak of the migration crisis in 2015. We will get first-hand experience about the migration situation. We will meet with the mayor of the village. We also will learn about the relationship with the Roma community in his village. Lunch in an authentic Hungarian Csarda. On our way back to Budapest – as a contrast – we will make a stop in Kecskemet and visit the Mercedes factory. We will meet with the management to get an insight about how a big multinational company sees Hungary.  Followed by a dinner in Kecskemet.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 5

Is Hungary a Mafia state? We start day 5 with a Breakfast meeting with Balint Magyar, former minister of education and author of the highly acclaimed book “The Post-Communist Mafia State: the Case of Hungary”. In the morning we take a look at the role of civil society and how it operates in the current context? We will visit the anticorruption NGO, Transparency International Hungary to further understand more about corruption in present-day Hungary and learn about the challenges of a watchdog NGO in an “illiberal” environment. This will be followed by lunch with the senior management.

In the afternoon we will visit the House of Terror Museum dedicated to the victims of fascism and communism in Hungary. Discussion about historic legacy and identity with an expert of the museum.

We will end the accompanied part of the tour with a closing dinner with Andras Torok, the leading authority on Budapest and author of the “Eggheads Guide to Budapest”.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 6

Breakfast in the hotel, check-out and departure for onward destinations.

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Tour Expert

Dr. Miklós Marschall has had a long and distinguished career in both his native Hungary and internationally. Soon after the collapse of communism, Miklos was elected Deputy Mayor of Budapest, responsible for arts, culture, education and tourism. Read more...

Travel Details

Price:

 €3,370 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

 Single person supplement €400

*Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

 Private busses and rented taxis

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is English

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

Further Information

Please visit our About Us and Frequently Asked Questions for further information on our tours or simply contact us!

Victor Orban has become an iconic and highly controversial political figure in both Hungary and abroad. To many, Orban – the archetypal populist- is a villain whose policies and beliefs are eliminating liberal democracy and its basic principles of human rights and the rule of law. The 2018 election campaign was accused of widespread xenophobia, scaremongering and overt anti-Semitism. His Fidesz party is taking control of most of the organs of the state and Orban himself declares that he is creating an “illiberal democracy”. He is also viewed as a model by other populists in Europe and beyond.   

Others celebrate him as one of the few “honest politicians”, who offers a real alternative to the failings and false promises of liberal democracy. One of the clearest illustrations of this fundamental clash of values occurred with the building of fences along the Southern Border during the large scale movement of refugees through Europe from 2015 onwards, leading to widespread international condemnation. While the “elites” of Europe disdain him, many – especially in working class communities – adore him as the “real European leader” who has the guts to go beyond “political correctness” and offers leadership to “defend” Europe against the evils of globalization.

Hungary’s liberal version of communism (“goulash communism”) prior to the 1989/90 changes which swept through Central and Eastern Europe, meant that it was at the forefront in introducing liberal democracy. Ironically, 25 + years later, Hungary once again finds itself on the political cutting-edge, but this time in dismantling liberal democracy. How is this possible? What has happened? Where will this end up?

This tour offers a unique insight into the workings of the Orban regime and modern Hungary. Why is it still popular? What drives it? Is it still a democracy? How do the key recipes of Victor Orban’s political cookbook (populism, nationalism, anti-elitism, Christianity, xenophobia, etc.) work? How do they compare with those of Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Kaczynski in Poland and Trump in America? Why are the Open Society Foundations – established by Hungarian George Soros – relocating from Budapest?

Led by Dr. Miklos Marschall, we will explore these issues with a wide range of eminent Hungarian and non-Hungarian experts – academics, current and past politicians, journalists, artists and business people. We will visit key institutions, think tanks and NGOs to dig deeper into particular issues which are closely linked to the current debates in Hungary, such as corruption, migration and Roma integration.

As well as providing you with unrivalled political insights into modern-day Hungary, you will also have the chance to enjoy a great selection of Hungarian culture, including classical- and folk-music (after all this is the country of Bela Bartok), architecture and gastronomy.

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

Over dinner wine with Miklos Marschall and his friends at his home in Budapest, we will be introduced to the key issues and programme for the coming days. Good Hungarian wine included!

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 2

On the first day of our tour, we will seek to get the overall perspective of the current situation. We will start by looking at the historical context of Orban’s ideas and aspirations through a conversation with Professor Andras Gerő, a distinguished historian and director of the Habsburg Institute in Budapest.

Over lunch we will discuss the key features of “illiberal democracy” with prominent Hungarian political commentators of both the liberal and conservative “sides”. After lunch we will walk over to the Petofi Literary Museum and meet with its director, Gergely Prohle, chair of the Board of the Andrassy University and former cabinet-member of Mr. Orban, as well as former ambassador of Hungary to Germany, to discuss with him the right wing-left wing political divide in Hungary. This will be followed by a tour of the museum itself.

In the evening we will have the opportunity to attend a concert in the beautiful Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, followed by an after concert dinner with some Budapest artists.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 3

We will start day 3 with a roundtable discussion about “Where Hungary goes” with leading political analysts and commentators including CEU Professor Andras Bozoki, former Minister of Culture, and others from the field of economics, media and law. 

We will have lunch with BBC correspondent Nick Thorpe resident in Budapest to get an external perspective on the situation in Hungary. In the afternoon, we will visit the Budapest Synagogue: the largest in Central-Europe, followed by a conversation about antisemitism with representatives of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz).

Evening cruise on the Danube with former mayor of Budapest, Gabor Demszky.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 4

On day 4 we will go an all day trip to Asotthalom and Kecskemet. Asotthalom is a village at the Hungarian-Serbian border and received widespread international media attention at the peak of the migration crisis in 2015. We will get first-hand experience about the migration situation. We will meet with the mayor of the village. We also will learn about the relationship with the Roma community in his village. Lunch in an authentic Hungarian Csarda. On our way back to Budapest – as a contrast – we will make a stop in Kecskemet and visit the Mercedes factory. We will meet with the management to get an insight about how a big multinational company sees Hungary.  Followed by a dinner in Kecskemet.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 5

Is Hungary a Mafia state? We start day 5 with a Breakfast meeting with Balint Magyar, former minister of education and author of the highly acclaimed book “The Post-Communist Mafia State: the Case of Hungary”. In the morning we take a look at the role of civil society and how it operates in the current context? We will visit the anticorruption NGO, Transparency International Hungary to further understand more about corruption in present-day Hungary and learn about the challenges of a watchdog NGO in an “illiberal” environment. This will be followed by lunch with the senior management.

In the afternoon we will visit the House of Terror Museum dedicated to the victims of fascism and communism in Hungary. Discussion about historic legacy and identity with an expert of the museum.

We will end the accompanied part of the tour with a closing dinner with Andras Torok, the leading authority on Budapest and author of the “Eggheads Guide to Budapest”.

Overnight in Budapest.

Day 6

Breakfast in the hotel, check-out and departure for onward destinations.

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Tour Expert

Dr. Miklós Marschall has had a long and distinguished career in both his native Hungary and internationally. Soon after the collapse of communism, Miklos was elected Deputy Mayor of Budapest, responsible for arts, culture, education and tourism. Read more...

Travel Details

Departure Dates:

17 – 22 March 2019
5 – 10 May 2019

Length:

6 days/ 5 nights

Start/ End:

Budapest, Hungary

Language:

English

Price:

 €3,370 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

 Single person supplement €400

Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

 Private busses and rented taxis

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is English

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

Further Information

Please visit our About Us and Frequently Asked Questions for further information on our tours or simply contact us!