Washington, DC, April 4 (MTI) – US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House published on Tuesday its latest assessment of the state of democratic governance, election procedures, civil society, freedom of the media, local democracy, legislation and corruption in 29 post-communist countries. Freedom House qualified Hungary’s democracy as “semi-consolidated”.
According to the report, the whole of central Europe has witnessed a “significant deterioration” in terms of democracy, due mainly to growing corruption and government pressure on the media. The Balkans and Eurasia, however, fared somewhat better, it said.
Freedom House has also found that for the first time since 1995 “consolidated authoritarian regimes”, numbering eight, outnumbered “consolidated democracies”, of which there were seven among 29 countries of the post-Soviet bloc.
In more than half of the countries surveyed, the democracy index deteriorated, the report said, noting that the decline was comparable to the period of the 2008 financial crisis.
Freedom House had earlier assumed that post-dictatorship countries in the region would proceed towards democracy and that process would be irreversible, but its latest findings undermine that assumption, the report noted.
In its latest survey, the watchdog qualified Hungary’s democratic institutions as the poorest in the central European region.
The report mentions Hungary alongside Poland as countries where “populist leaders have attacked constitutional courts, undermined checks and balances, and have turned public media into propaganda arms”.
Freedom House singled out Hungary and Poland as examples of countries that had transitioned to democracy in the early 1990s but had backslid since. Unless society buys into democracy and firm political norms, the institutions of a liberal democracy will be vulnerable, the report said.
The watchdog also cited a crisis within the European Union as diminishing the efficacy of EU institutions supporting liberal democracy in the bloc.
The report said during the 2018 election campaign Hungary’s ruling Fidesz may threaten the existence of organisations financed from foreign sources.
Read the Freedom House report HERE.
The Hungarian government spokesman’s office said in a statement it was “no surprise” that Freedom House, an organisation “financed by George Soros”, should “launch an attack” on Hungary.
Authors of the statement insisted that freedom of the press was uncurbed in Hungary, and “all political positions will be given room and can be published” while Hungary’s residents “can exercise their democratic rights at free elections”.
Source: Freedom House/Hungary