Skip to main content

Department Seminar: The Hungarian version of de-democatization - the operation of the moral panic button (MPB) in an informational autocracy (IA)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

I argue that the creation and fine-tuning of MPB is a crucial aspect of building the Hungarian version of an authoritarian regime. In other words, the state hegemony of the communication field is an inherent element of the de-democratization process. I intend to prove that (1) contemporary Hungary is an IA which (2) uses MPB as its basic propaganda technology to remain in power.

According to the original concept (Guriev-Treisman, 2020), there are four main characteristics of informational autocracy: (1) the low application of violence against political opponents, (2) they mimic democracy, (3) they have more public support among the lower classes and the less-educated compared to the elites, and (4) that it emphasizes competency over ideology.

I argue that the Hungarian version of IA is a perfect example why I do not accept the fourth element of the definition of IA. The Hungarian technology of IA, while emphasizing the competence of the government, uses various ideological narratives as well to create and maintain moral panic as the basis of its legitimacy. This extension of the original concept of IA is crucial for my approach since it characterizes the role of propaganda as the key element of governance. MPB serves IA by producing and circulating the narratives containing a mix of themes, frames and scapegoats which combine the justification of the competence of the ruling regime with various ideologies and the charismatic features of the prime minister (Viktor Orbán).


BRIDGES - This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004564