Democracy in Europe: What if Hungary’s election is not free and fair?


Democracy in Europe: What if Hungary’s election is not free and fair?

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 - 5:00pm
Zoom webinar
Kim Lane Scheppele (Department of Sociology, Princeton University)
Marta Pardavi (Hungarian Helsinki Committee)
Marcin Walecki (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Timothy Garton Ash (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Timothy Garton Ash (St Antony’s College, Oxford) and Marcin Walecki (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
European Studies Seminar


To attend online please register here

The April 2022 parliamentary elections in Hungary will be the first in which FIDESZ has faced real competition since sweeping to power in 2010. If successful again, Victor Orbán would cement his power and strengthen an alliance of far-right forces across the Continent. The issue of the integrity of the election will be even more important than in the 2014 and 2018 elections. OSCE International observers have delivered a damning verdict on previous parliamentary elections in Hungary, complaining of “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing” and pronouncing them unfair. The closest election in Hungary's recent memory could test our understanding of democracy and the rule of law – among the European Union’s core values, enshrined in Article 2 of the EU-Treaty. An expert panel will discuss both the prospects for the election itself and the wider implications for democracy in the EU and Europe as a whole.

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Her primary field is the sociology of law and she specializes in ethnographic and archival research on courts and public institutions. Recently, she has concentrated in particular on changes within the European Union – exploring the way that the EU has had difficulty holding its own against national popular movements that brought about Brexit and the rise of illiberal autocracies among the member states. An expert on authoritarian regimes, she is a leading critic of the Viktor Orban government.

Márta Pardavi is co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and was previously a Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute’s School of Transnational Governance. Pardavi has recently focused on the threats to the rule of law and civil society in Hungary and in the EU, and on strengthening alliances between human rights defenders in the EU. She serves on the boards of PILnet, International Partnership for Human Rights and Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. She has been awarded the 2018 William D. Zabel Human Rights Award from Human Rights First, Civil Rights Defender’s Civil Rights Defenders of the Year 2019 award and was chosen to be a member of POLITICO28 Class of 2019.

Marcin Walecki is current Director of the Europaeum and the Europaeum Fellow at St Antony’s College. He is a former Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. A Polish national, he has over 25 years of democracy support and governance experience working in more than 50 countries around the world. He was previously a Head of Democratization Department of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights OSCE/ODIHR, one of the world’s principal regional human rights bodies. He was also the first Executive Director of the European Partnership for Democracy, a not-for-profit organisation with a global remit to support democracy. As an academic, he has a strong interest in democratic governance, rule of law, political parties, elections, and political corruption.

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