How to Cook Hungarian Democracy Goulash

Tip: For this goulash, we recommend that you use a relatively young democracy as the main ingredient.

We are basing this recipe on the most infamous of Hungarian master chefs – Viktor Orbán, the current Prime Minister of Hungary. Orbán is credited with turning a once burgeoning free democratic country into a cauldron of burnt citizens, soured dreams and grated human rights while the European Union watches him butcher democracy and prepare his stew of autocratic rule.

Members from the European People’s Party (EPP) also have paprika on their hands, as they have done little to stop the pot from boiling over. The EPP, which comprises a further 10 leaders of 26 European countries including Germany’s Angela Merkel, nervously watch as Orbán systematically dismantles democracy, plunging Hungary’s status to a “hybrid democracy”.

The key to Orbán’s undemocratic dish is that a red blanket of paprika makes all the ingredients unrecognisable, which is what József Szájer wished he was, when he was arrested in Brussels. Szájer, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament from Hungary’s centre-right Christian democratic party – FIDESZ, of which he is a founding member, had spent the last few months actively blocking Europe’s much-needed €1.8 trillion corona rescue package. This tit-for-tat petty politics came as retaliation for Hungary being called out the 5th time for violating the EU rule of law.[1] Szájer was trying to escape from police that had just forced entry to an apartment were Szájer was partaking in a 25-man gay orgy. Drugs were also found on his possession.[2]

Rights and Regression

After cutting the onions and sizzling them, paprika is stirred in with a teaspoon of vinegar, to take away the bitter taste, and bitter it is. After Orbán swept in with a two-third majority, FIDESZ unilaterally rewrote the Hungarian constitution, inscribing Christian ideology and traditional family values, along with multiple references to god, into the previous non-secular constitution.

Orbán fortified his cult of personality, exalting himself as the man that gave god back to the Hungarians, placing himself ultimately above god.

With his outright majority in parliament, Orbán impinged upon LGBTIQ civil liberties, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. As the European Union warned that democracy was at stake, Szájer held the pen, Orbán dictated.

Boil down the broth and allow enough time for the flavours to develop. Soon the news would reach the women in Szájer’s life, his wife, a Hungarian constitutional judge, and his daughter a close friend of Orbán’s daughter. Hungarian women bear persistent attacks on gender equality. After banning gender studies at universities, Orbán’s new constitution curtailed women’s rights by protecting the foetus “since its conception” and includes obstacles to access reproductive health services, such as long waiting periods and mandatory counselling, all of which Hungary has been criticized by the United Nation’s health watchdog, the World Health Organisation.

Orbán’s allies believe a Trump-esque style conspiracy theory, that there are mysterious, evil external forces meticulously plotting Hungary being taken over by non-White, non-Christian, non-Hungarians.

Hungary’s Minister for Family Affairs, Katalin Novak, in an interview with the alt-right website Breitbart stoically claimed abortion was “pro-killing”. The proud racist homophobe also stated, “it is the young white Christian Hungarian women’s duty to have more babies to avoid demographic decline”. In a video she implores, “Let’s be happy that we were born women. Let’s be happy that we can give life” and ends with “Do not believe that women have to constantly compete with men…and that we should work in at least the same position, for at least the same pay they do.” [3]

Orbán the Almighty

As if the new constitution was not enough, the Hungarian parliament passed the “Enabling Act” under the pretext of a coronavirus pandemic response. Orbán, now with the right to govern by decree without parliamentary approval and without a time limit, imposed further infringements on human rights, NGOs, academic institutions and independent press.

A large majority of Hungarians are no longer able to develop an independent view.

Hungarian media was merged into a media conglomerate under a directorate of Orbán’s school friends and FIDESZ loyalists. According to an EU report, Hungary has no more independent free press, and even worse, Orbán’s thugs ensure businesses refrain from providing services to free press. After Hungary’s oldest independent newspaper, “Népszabadság”, (People’s Freedom) was forced to close by Orbán, the editor started his own paper, only to find that Hungarian printers nervously refused to print his paper. He eventually went to Slovakia to print them.

Szájer’s escapades eventually hit Hungarian media, who reported the incident, albeit omitting any reference to “sex” or “sexuality”, as an anti-Magyar faux pas instigated by Brussels . Orbán regularly laments “bad Brussels” and the 1.07 billion euros EU membership costs, but Hungary (Orbán) receives over 6.29 billion euros in support from the union, accounting for 5% of the nation’s economy, the highest percentage in the EU.

Forbes estimates the private assets of the Orbán clan at around 22 million euros.

According to the latest Eurobarometer, 87% of Hungarians surveyed believe corruption is widespread in Hungary. Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, was awarded EU funded contracts for 65 million euros to produce LED street-lighting for Hungarian towns. In Orbán’s hometown of Felcsút, his old school friend and now mayor – Mr Lörinc Mészarós, became Hungary’s 8th richest man after Mészarós won the EU funded bid to build a football stadium with 3,800 seats in a town of 1,812 inhabitants.

Szájer knew he was cooked. Cooked as Hungarian democracy. As Orbán gleefully stirs his goulash, the European Union and the European Council are busy pointing fingers at one another, trying to decide whose job it is to deal with Hungary’s autocrat for not upholding European Union values.

Meanwhile, Orbán finishes his goulash, garnishing it with patriotism cream, some sprinkles of censorship herbs and nepotism salt, all the while knowing that Hungarians, especially Szájer, will have to keep eating his goulash, even if they don’t like it.

Jó étvágyat!

Bon appétit!

Peter Kakucska





Peter Kakucska is a Hungarian national and senior advisor at FOGGS. He was a student of Finno-Ugrian Studies at the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies and Ethnology where he researched Hungarian diaspora cultural life, national identity and minority politics in post-Communist Hungary and the University of Debrecen, Faculty of History and Ethnology where he analysed diaspora policies, nationhood versus citizenship and national identity within institutional frameworks and Fundamental Law after Hungary’s constitutional transformation.

Peter has worked in international diplomacy, serving for nearly 20 years at the United Nations. Providing support to the world leaders in strategic implementation and international negotiations of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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