How to Build Democracy — in an Authoritarian Country | Tessza Udvarhelyi | TED | Summary and Q&A

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January 11, 2024
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TED
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How to Build Democracy — in an Authoritarian Country | Tessza Udvarhelyi | TED

TL;DR

Hungary's current government has eroded democracy and implemented oppressive policies, but grassroots activists and organizations are working towards social justice and change.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How has Hungary's government eroded democracy and implemented oppressive policies?

Hungary's right-wing government, in power since 2010, has utilized nationalism, racism, homophobia, and oppressive legislation to erode democracy. They have criminalized homelessness, passed exploitative labor laws, marginalized LGBTQ individuals, and suppressed education and free speech.

Q: What role do grassroots organizations play in Hungary's fight for social justice?

Grassroots organizations, such as The City Is for All, are at the forefront of Hungary's fight for social justice. They empower homeless individuals, create a sense of belonging, and allow marginalized voices to become movement leaders. These organizations actively challenge oppressive policies and work towards housing justice and other social causes.

Q: How does participatory budgeting contribute to democracy in Hungary?

Participatory budgeting, introduced in Budapest and other districts, gives local residents a say in how municipal budgets are spent. This power allows citizens to decide on local priorities, creates alternative avenues for public spending, and challenges the central government's concentration of power and resources. It fosters a sense of belonging and empowers local communities.

Q: What obstacles does Hungary face in achieving social and political change?

Hungary faces several obstacles in achieving social and political change. The government's oppression has created a belief that change is not possible, and many Hungarians are unaware of grassroots movements or alternative perspectives. Overcoming fear and passivity is crucial to imagining and creating a different future.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Hungary, after decades of state socialism, had a functioning democracy in the 1990s, but the right-wing government elected in 2010 has undermined democratic principles and embraced nationalism, racism, and homophobia.

  • The government has criminalized homelessness, passed exploitative labor laws, marginalized LGBTQ individuals, and suppressed education and free speech.

  • While Hungary still has regular elections and some independent media, the government's authoritarianism and the passive response of its citizens have led to widespread emigration.

  • Grassroots organizations, such as The City Is for All and participatory budgeting initiatives, offer hope for change, encouraging citizen engagement and creating a new vision for democracy.

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