Daniel Hegedüs is a GMF senior fellow focused on Central Europe. He writes and speaks extensively on populism and democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe, and the European and foreign affairs of the Visegrad countries. He is frequently quoted in outlets such as AFP, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Euractiv, EU Observer and Der Spiegel. He has studied political science, history, and European law at the Eötvös Loránd University Budapest and Humboldt University in Berlin.

Prior to joining GMF he worked in different research, lecturing, and project-management positions at Freedom House, the German Council on Foreign Relations, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He has taught at the Institute for Eastern-European Studies at the Free University Berlin, Humboldt University in Berlin, and the Eötvös Loránd University Budapest.

Media Mentions

For the Orbán government, bilateral relations have a strong party-politics angle. They have been contemplating whether it was worth putting all their cards on Trump. The indictment against the former president only confirmed that.
Hungary and Poland used to have a strategic partnership based on shared illiberal values and a political vision built on a strong semi-authoritarian state. There were always differences in this relationship, and most of these could be attributed to different strategic orientations towards Russia. Right now, they are practically pushing opposing narratives on the European Union. But, their end goals are more or less the same.
Poland led by PiS used to be Hungary’s prime strategic ally . . . Budapest made a lot of investment in this relationship, and Orbán is simply not ready to realize the losses. It is better to have this relationship cooled down and in limbo than risking a public fallout and facing all the EU and foreign policy challenges emerging from that.
The Hungarian government, once again, got what it wanted, it was able to leverage the whole European Union. [Orban] has only winning cards. He can practically deny the European Union an oil import ban.
Over the past nearly four years, these hearings practically lead nowhere. I would not say that they are useless because it always used the tool to exert some leverage or pressure over the governments in the European Union, be it the Hungarian or the Polish.
The new cabinet lineup shows that the Russian thread is going to get even stronger for Orban. ... Navracsics’s selection is a gesture of sorts and suggests Orban’s peacock dance between east and west is set to continue.
There will be “intense soul searching” within Jobbik... Its existential and ideological crisis is undeniable. Apparently the radicalisation of Fidesz hasn't opened up new opportunities for Jobbik in the centre; it just shifted the whole political stage more rightwards. We will see intense ideological and strategic discussion within Jobbik in the next couple of months, and more defections of politicians and members to Our Homeland cannot be ruled out.
Potentially there would be a very pragmatic balancing game on the side of the European Commission: on the one hand not provoking Hungary into blocking EU decision making in the council, but on the other hand…not being too soft and too accommodating. It would be fatal if there would be only accommodation.
The whole operation of the Orban regime – which is built on the strategic corruption and abuse of EU funds –, this political system is not operational outside of the European Union.
The situation will become more difficult. As long as the war lasts, unless Orban vetoes the joint EU actions, he will be protected from adverse action. A landslide victory now will push the EU toward accepting this as the new status quo: yes, it has authoritarian member states.
Orban is practically the only politician since the transition who has made it so Hungary punches above its weight. And I think that’s a very important factor for most voters with that nationalistic mindset. Yes, Hungary is a minor power. But it has an influence at the level of European politics which exceeds its material capabilities and resources.
The outcome … will determine [Hungary’s] short-term stability and long-term political direction, toward either more autocratisation or re-democratisation. The elections will also be of strategic importance for the European Union and Hungary’s transatlantic partners.
Since the early 1990s, [Orban] transformed from a liberal politician first to a national-conservative, and later to a populist radical-right leader.
Unity is by far the top priority in the EU and NATO. Nobody will pick on Hungary now when Orban has such a huge blackmail potential. As long as Orban does not break EU unity on Russia his other actions may continue to be overlooked. That is precisely his strategy: block nothing but do nothing more.
[Many people had expected much more trouble from Orbán.] Instead, we were able to see an unexpected realignment with the EU and Nato over Russia over the past couple of weeks.
If we compare the sudden decrease of the value of forint with Czech koruna and the Polish złoty, it shows that even within this regional basket [where all currencies weakened], international investors deem the insecurity risk the highest in case of Hungary.
Combat air patrols in [no-fly zones] might be able to cope with a couple of airplanes violating the zone, but not with coordinated, en masse deployment of several dozens or even hundred of airplanes the Russians are able to deploy if they wish so to challenge the [no-fly zones].
European and North American members [need] to live up to this political obligation after 12 years of uninterrupted autocratisation in Hungary and delegate observers in appropriate numbers.
This is the 11th personal meeting between Putin and Orban and the timing of this one sends a symbolic message to Putin, because it shows him that not every EU nation has shunned him over the crisis in Ukraine.
The united opposition should win at least 3 to 5 percent more votes to get a majority mandate in the Hungarian national assembly. That’s a huge difference and we don’t see this advantage in the polls yet.
The Polish government is reluctant to join any EU-wide populist group because they could lose influence within the European Parliament, given that they are the largest party within their current European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group... While the Identity and Democracy [far-right grouping] and its member parties are largely isolated in the European Parliament, the ECR Group and especially Law and Justice isn't. They have rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs in the European Parliament...and also a committee presidency.
Fidesz could join the ECR or ID anytime it wants. But it doesn’t because Orban wants to control the process.
It remains to be seen if [Péter Márki-Zay] can lead such a complex coalition, and is not only a populist social-media hussar.
The Greens and FDP, of course, are committed to liberal democratic values. However, whether that can be directly translated into German government policy when they come into the sawmill of everyday politics, then I have my doubts.
hinter der ungarischen Rhetorik politisches Kalkül steckt. Die Botschaft der ungarischen Regierung an die EU laute: „Wenn ihr uns das Geld nicht gebt, dann können wir noch ungemütlicher für euch werden.
Hungarian rhetoric could be 'politically calculated leveraging' against the potential loss of EU funding. (They are saying), ‘If you don’t give us the money, then we can be even more uncomfortable for you.’