Project

Life in a Dying Democracy

Since the twin shocks of 2016—the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory—there has been a global sense that liberal democracy is under threat from a new kind of authoritarian populism. In one country, these fears have become reality: Hungary.

Since his victory in the 2010 election, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has set about dismantling Hungarian democracy. He has packed the courts with pliant judges, shuttered media outlets, and gerrymandered electoral districts to give his party a permanent advantage in Hungary’s National Assembly. A prosperous European democracy has, in the past eight years, moved towards a kind of pseudo-authoritarianism.

How did this happen? What is it like to have lived in Hungary over the past eight years—to see democracy, so hard won after the fall of the Soviet Union, fall under attack? And what can Hungary's crisis tell us about the future of democracy in the West more broadly?

Today, Explained: Democracy Dies in Daylight

Democracies can fall many ways: military coups, assassinations, mass protests. But what does it look like when a democracy quietly backslides into autocracy?