The regime run by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary uses smear campaigns to feed an atmosphere of political and psychological warfare. The smears are felt far beyond Hungary and could serve as a model for other strong men and autocrats in Europe.
This week we air stories and analysis from three people with direct experience of Budapest’s dirty tactics: the human rights activist Márta Pardavi; the European Parliamentarian Judith Sargentini; and the political scientist Péter Krekó.
Pardavi is co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group based in Budapest and among the most prominent targets of Orbán’s ire. Last year Pardavi was honoured for her courage and work by Human Rights First in New York.
Krekó is a social psychologist and political scientist and executive director of Political Capital, a research institute and consultancy in Budapest. He’s the author of a book on the Hungarian far right and another on fake news and conspiracy theories. Krekó slams the European Commission for going too easy on Budapest for too long.
Sargentini is a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands who wrote a damning report last year on the erosion of democracy in Hungary. The report made Sargentini one of the prime foreign targets for Budapest’s smear campaigns. She says she can no longer visit Hungary.