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The effect of disinformation on democracy: the impact of Hungary’s democratic decline


  • Jonathan REISHER

    (master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States)


Hungary’s democratic backsliding demonstrates that the Cold War era notion that more access to information will accelerate the spread of democracy is dying. For authoritarians, social media enabled disinformation is the weapon of choice because it challenges democratic institutional legitimacy. The popularity of the Sputnik V vaccine in Hungary indicates that, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Russian influence was growing in the EU’s backyard. By exploiting social, political, and economic inequalities in Hungary, Russia disinformation facilitated Victor Orban’s consolidation of power ahead of the April 2020 elections. Democracies should adopt a new paradigm of state power projection that views robust domestic institutions as the way to confront the issue of social media enabled disinformation. Democracy’s most effective weapon against disinformation is institutional legitimacy, socio-economic equality, and public participation in government.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan REISHER, 2022. "The effect of disinformation on democracy: the impact of Hungary’s democratic decline," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 14(1), pages 42-68, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:jes:wpaper:y:2022:v:14:i:1:p:42-68

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laszlo J Kulcsar & Tamas Domokos, 2005. "The Post‐Socialist Growth Machine: The Case of Hungary," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(3), pages 550-563, September.
    2. Vivien A. Schmidt, 2013. "Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and ‘Throughput’," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 61(1), pages 2-22, March.
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    More about this item


    Hungary; Viktor Orban; Democracy; Disinformation; COVID19; Russia;
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