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Religion and Authoritarian Legitimacy: The Hungarian Pentecostal Faith Church in the Orbán Regime

Monday, November 13, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The De- and Re-Democratization (DRD) Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its next Rooftop Seminar.

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In recent years, Hungarian politics has gained international attention. Since 2010, when Viktor Orbán’s national–conservative Fidesz party was elected to a parliamentary supermajority, the country has gone through a significant political transformation. The Orbán regime has gradually curtailed press and academic freedoms, eroded judicial independence, undermined a multiparty democratic system, and violated human rights. The Hungarian government has politically sold all these changes by employing a Christian–nationalistic narrative. It depicts the country as the last bastion of Christian Europe against Western liberal cosmopolitanism. Even though almost half of the Hungarian population identifies as non-religious, churches have played a key role in promoting this ideology and maintaining the Orbán regime. This article uses the fairly new Pentecostal Faith Church, which gained prominence and much influence in the 2010s, as a case study. Investigating the role of Faith Church in the Orbán regime is key to understanding the new Christian–nationalist entanglements in Hungary and, in essence, the nature of the political system that Orbán has created.

The paper is available upon request from the author.


András Bozóki is Professor at the Department of Political Science and research affiliate at the Democracy Institute. His research interest covers democratization, democratic decline, political regimes, ideologies, Central European politics, and the role of intellectuals.He authored more than 200 publications, including the recent book,Rolling Transition and the Role of Intellectuals (2022). Bozóki was a fellow at prestigious institutions, including the Wissenschaftskolleg, NIAS, IWM,EUI and UCLA. Among others, he was recurrent visiting professor atColumbia University, New York and Tubingen University. He was president of the Hungarian Political Science Association and chairman of the Political Science Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is a founder of the Hungarian Political Science Review and receivedthe Istvan Bibo Prize. He is Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 1989, Bozóki participated at the national roundtable negotiations and served as Minister of Culture of Hungary in 2005-2006.

Zoltán Ádám is an external research affiliate at the Institute for Political Science, Centre for Social Sciences (HUN-REN). He was Associate Professor at the Institute of Economics at Corvinus University of Budapest (until censored by university authorities over his defense of academic integrity). He holds a PhD in economics from Debrecen University, an MPhil in political science from Central European University, and a master in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School. At Corvinus, he taught classes in institutional economics, microeconomics and comparative economics. His research focuses on the political economy of post-communist transition, populism and illiberal democracies. In 2020-2022, he was head of the Department of Economic Policy and Labor Economics at Corvinus – a department that was closed down during the recent transformation of the university.


Eszter Kováts, PhD, is a political scientist. From 2009 to 2019 she was working in the Hungarian office of the German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. She wrote her PhD about the politicization of the term gender by the German New Right and the Orbán regime in the context of progressive gender trends, and she defended it in the Institute for Political Science at University ELTE, Budapest in 2022. Her book „Genderőrületek Németországban és Magyarországon” (Gender madnesses in Germany and Hungary) was published in September 2022. Her areas of research: anti-gender politics, illiberal Right, illiberal Left.


Andreas Schedler is a Senior Research Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute. He is the Lead Researcher of the De/Re-Democratization Working Group and a Visiting Professor at CEU Vienna. He earned his PhD from the University of Vienna. Before joining the CEU, he was a professor of political science at the Center for Economic Teaching and Research (cide) in Mexico City. A leading comparative scholar of democracy, democratization, and authoritarianism, he has conducted research on democratic consolidation and transition, authoritarian elections, anti-political-establishment parties, political accountability, and organized violence. He is also known for his methodological work on concept analysis and cross-national measurement. His current research focuses on political polarization and the destruction of basic democratic trust.