Democratic Backsliding of Hungary and Turkey

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Comparative politics, scholars have developed numerous theories to understand the timing and success of transitions from an authoritarian rule to democracy. Recently, however, there has been a reverse trend of democratic backsliding. In some countries, populist leaders have gained power and undermined the norms of liberal democracy that were long taken-for-granted. In other countries, democracies have given way to hybrid regimes that combine features of authoritarian rule with elements of democracy. What accounts for these authoritarian reversals? Are some regimes more vulnerable to democratic backsliding than others? This paper examines these questions through a comparison between Turkey and Hungary. It argues that the backsliding in both countries is linked to having a weak state due to linkage and leverage of economic and political transitions.

Literature Review

According to Moffitt (2015, 193) states leaders perform and create a crisis to gain media attention and to polarize citizens. This is done by incumbents unfairly having control over what is showcased in the media. So it is clear that although as a result of defective democracy, leaders will utilize strong man rule to integrate populism in order to polarize citizens. The institutions utilize coercive means to elicit crises in the media by claiming there is an issue within their economy. A weakness of democratic state laws and institutions is each case is socially complex. A weakness to Moffit’s claim is the cases of populism are not completely independent or linked. Bermeo (2016) suggests executive aggrandizement plays a role in institutional changes that hamper the power of opposition forces. A critique of Benjamin Moffit’s response to populism is the government opposition in Ecuador, were Rafael Correa was re-elected as the president of Ecuador and used his position of power to make it seem as though there was an emergence of neoliberal populism(Moffitt 2015, 190). Moffitt (2015) acknowledges that leaders create a crisis to polarize society and that it is performed by strong leadership. The usage of media is utilized for those in power to make it seem as though there is a crisis going on in order to distract citizens from becoming aware of the grievances within their communities.

Democratic backsliding entails the erosion of democracy by weakening a democratic state through laws and institutions this is done gradually so most people are unaware of it happening. Basically, they are small underpinnings of democracy. For Nancy Bermeo (2016), backsliding involves quick changes across different institutions that lead to a democratic breakdown that is not definitively authoritarian it can involve solely a democratic regime or a hybrid regime(6). She alludes that the economy can be culturally mediated and that crisis seems urgent to treat so those in power can have a cause, although when crisis gains traction it is because people entertain the notion that there is a problem to be handled. According to Banjamin Moffitt (2015), citizens’ understanding of populism is underdeveloped from his point of view individuals’ grasp of populism is understood as people being pinned against one another by the media suggesting there is a dangerous other. Furthermore, these advocates for strong leadership which can impact globalization by creating an economic crisis from a semi-periphery stance. This is defined as the division of the world into developed and powerful countries the division in countries like Hungary and Turkey are due to contestation, such as in Hungary people are anxious about losing their jobs and suffering from a decline in living standards (Schmit, 2018). In one form or another these means were used in both countries to cause fear and/or for political gain.

According to Moffitt (2015), populism launched the process of opinion building making crises not be viewed as completely negative yet more nuanced. Weak democracies suffer from populist cycles an example of this is the Eurozone sovereign debt is jeopardizing the EU by the economy being culturally mediated (Moffit 2015,197). On the other hand, Bermeo (2016), describes the impact of illiberal democracy in the case in Turkey elections took place yet ordinary citizens were cut off from knowledge about who truly has power. Turkey being deemed as a weak state by its transition to democracy to new autocracy and its linkage to economic and political shortcomings. This instance shows both scholars would be in agreeance that democratic backsliding involves quick changes across different institutions mainly within the political, cultural, ideological sphere is where the issues are formulated. Bermeo(2016) highlights due to these factors causes a democratic breakdown that is not definitively authoritarian instead it can involve solely a democratic regime or a hybrid regime.

The Efforts of Democratic Backsliding Between Hungary and Turkey

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The erosion of democratic backsliding has occurred due to economic disparities within Hungary and Turkey, by institutions like the AKP the dominant party in Turkey using coercion to elicit power and create a crisis.Turkey’s infrastructure in the literal sense is a competitive authoritarian regime. This is assessed by Esen(2016) when she describes a situation in Turkey from the Justice and Development Party also known as (AKP) is a dominant party that came to power in 2002 from then on, Turkey has undergone two regime transitions. This took place in a provincial town near the Turkey border near Iran and Iraq by a Kurdish separatist group attacked two armoured military vehicles by a violent and deadliest terrorist attack (Esen,1581). The AKPs’ desire to hang on to power despite its electoral defeat in political violence.This has ultimately increase with government pressure. Another context where the impact of media is nuanced on the more negative spectrum is with having a defective democracy.

In these cases, the government appropriates state resources for partisan distribution and packs state institutions systematically with its also controls the media to limit the opposition’s access to voters and weaken its political campaigns. Lastly, the government critics are threatened, harassed and occasionally prosecuted. As a result of the governments’ skewed access to resources and institutions, the opposition faces an uneven playing field against the incumbent party (1582).

Turkey faces difficulties in the notion of strong man rule, military and some hybrid regimes where the selectorate mainly involved within its political disparities in the military rule. The media describes this as censorship and endorsement of violent attacks against the opposition by AKP supporters (1582). Turkey is apart of a global authoritarian retreat observed in the weakening of political institutions. The democratic backsliding is the erosion of the rule of law by leaders who initially come to power through the ballot box showed the action of a defective democracy (1582). What had occurred is the AKP party as previously mentioned had abused its control over the state-owned media and regulatory agencies would be a description of Moffit’s ideology on populism.

The level of insurgency that was mentioned by Essen (2016) is the AKP party used legal actions to harass critics and reward supporters in the media and civil society. They used their power of public policy to gain access to greater private finance for the AKP party. The supporters of the party desire to hang on to power despite its electoral defeat displayed a major growth in political violence and mass protest which in turn, elevated government pressure on censorship in the media including implicit endorsement of violent attacks against the opposition by AKP supporters, addresses the component of a hybrid regime[…];furthermore the incumbency carries a certain degree of advantage in a liberal democracy(1581-1582). Competitive authoritarian regimes stand out by people undermining the opposition’s capacity to organize and compete in elections. This can relate to the role of the campaign during the elections at times it can be seen that the nature of it is cutthroat and competitive.

The Backsliding in Hungary

In Hungary, the crisis that has been created is by the formal democratic institutions. The real issue is the constant budget cuts mainly the poverty policy instead of implementing a strategy for social integration. “In 2010 and 2011 Hungary has experienced a decline in the EU and is far removed from Europe’s standard of living in the realm of the social model” (Atila 2013, 16).A downfall of their democracy is from the impact of the economic recovery of 1997 which enabled the Hungarian middle class to move toward roles in democratization and pan-Europeanism. Since the political and economic systemic changes have damaged social consolidation, Hungary has had to restart the whole exercise by focusing on the social systemic changes (17).[transitional sentence] The absolute losers are the “poor strata, budget cuts, and poor infrastructure in public services in health care, education and social policy” (Atila 2013). This comes down to social and political indicators caused shifts towards democratic backsliding, quality of democracy and systemic failures. This is shown with the socioeconomic crisis of demobilization of political participation. The Hungarian Dream ideally would involve a stronger middle class and economic recovery however this is presently non-existent. The absolute losers are those citizens who are unemployed specifically during the 1990s many Hungarian citizens lost their jobs due to the stock market and political tensions (7). People began to have more public awareness as to what is going on which is a corrupt government.

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