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“Hungary is actually an incubator where experiments are done on the future of conservative policies....We didn’t just talk about defeating the progressives and liberals and causing a conservative Christian political turn, but we actually did it."
- Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, May 4, 2023

"About the Don’t Say Gay law [signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis], it was, in fact, modeled in part after what Hungary did.”
- Rod Dreher, senior editor of The American Conservative, April 13, 2022

”[Hungary is a] small country in Central Europe that has a lot of lessons for us."
- Tucker Carlson, Fox News, January 19, 2022

At the turn of this century, Hungary was a celebrated model of post-Soviet, Western-style democracy. Today, after 13 years of leadership by Viktor Orbán, the longest-serving current leader of any EU member country, it is being called by the EU’S European Parliament an “electoral autocracy” and it condemns the “deliberate and systematic efforts of the Hungarian government” to undermine European values.  

Perhaps of most concern for the leadership of Europe: Hungary is scheduled to assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU in July 2024. That puts “strongman” Orbán in charge of an essential EU decision-making body.

How did this former proponent of liberal democracy become an icon to far-right Christian nationalists around the world and in the US? How did this onetime radical firebrand who first gained fame from a rousing speech demanding the expulsion of Soviet forces become one of Vladimir Putin's staunchest allies -- referred to by some as a "Trojan horse for Russia?"

Do Orbán and his majority Fidesz party serve the best interests and desires of the people? Or is he the godfather of a criminal organization built on conspiracy theories about the European Union, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, George Soros and others? Is Viktor Orbán's Hungary, in fact, a cautionary tale for those who believe in free, representative, multi-political party democracy?


To explore these questions and more, CITIZENARTS is honored to present a panel discussion with three knowledgeable, thoughtful, distinguished Hungarians whose expertise includes sociology, government and politics, foreign policy, and academia. Join us for a dynamic podcast discussion with Borbala Kriza, Bálint Magyar and Zsuzsanna Szelényi in Hungary’s Cautionary Tale: How Autocrats Broke Democracy.

This podcast is available at Apple Podcasts, any of the platforms listed above, or wherever you get your shows. For your convenience, you can also listen to Hungary’s Cautionary Tale: How Autocrats Broke Democracy by clicking the episode link below.

Listen to Hungary’s Cautionary Tale: How Autocrats Broke Democracy
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About the Panel


We extend our deepest gratitude to our panel of knowledgeable, accomplished, and thoughtful participants. Please click their names to read a brief bio.

Credits and Additional Information


Jim Gabbe - Host and director

Jill S. Gabbe - Executive producer

Jeff Lewis - Producer and technical director

Photo credit: James I. Gabbe

Hungary’s Cautionary Tale: How Autocrats Broke Democracy is courtesy of gabbegroup Productions. All rights are reserved.

More about Zsuzsanna Szelényi's book Tainted Democracy, Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary can be found at her website.

For other CITIZENARTS podcasts, please visit:

We are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. Click here to access our programs. They include MARCH, an audio drama about Hitler’s rise to dictatorial power; Liberty vs. Tyranny: Czech Views on Ukraine, Freedom and Democracy Shaped by Strife with Russia; A More – or less – Perfect Union, a nationwide debate about hyper-critical social, civic and political issues in the U.S., and IN THEIR WORDS: What public officials do for us.


We'd love your feedback. Email @citizenartsedu, Facebook: @citizenarts, Twitter/X: @citizenartsedu, Threads: @citizenartsedu

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For more information about Hungary’s Cautionary Tale: How Autocrats Broke Democracy or any CITIZENARTS programming, please contact:

Jeff Lewis, Producer, CITIZENARTS

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