Abstract

The political turn of 1998 in post-transition Hungary marked the beginning of a new era: the rise of the New Right. Fidesz, which used to be a liberal party during the regime change of 1989, later changed its political stance. Under the presidency of Viktor Orba´n, Fidesz became a centre-right party by adopting a mixed ideology that contained contradictory elements. The reason for Fidesz’s electoral success in 1998 was that it responded to the social need for order and democratic consolidation after the turbulent years of political and economic transformation. However, the years when Fidesz governed Hungary (1998–2002) could be characterized by both conservative consolidation and populist mass mobilization. Voters could not fully understand why the rhetoric of ‘second revolution’ would lead to the consolidation of democracy. This sort of contradictory agenda-setting from above alienated the majority of voters in the 2002 elections so Fidesz was replaced by the returning MSZP–SZDSZ left-liberal coalition government. Despite two electoral losses (2002 and 2006), Fidesz created a second political culture, an alternative polity that established itself as the Hungarian version of the New Right, a mixture of populism, conservatism, and plebeian, redistributionist, economic nationalism. The emergence of the Hungarian New Right reinterpreted social conflicts, and sharpened political division in the society.