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Was Viktor Orbán’s Unorthodox Economic Policy the Right Answer to Hungary’s Economic Misfortunes?


This paper assesses whether the unorthodox policies implemented in Hungary since 2010 were, given a four-year perspective, the right answer to Hungarian economic problems.

The paper draws on findings from the author’s August and November 2014 study trips to Hungary, during which Hungarian government officials and scholars from Budapest University of Technology and Economics were interviewed. These findings were supplemented by publications and data from Eurostat and World Bank databases.

Statistical data from May 2015 demonstrate that significant improvements took place in most (if not all) areas of the Hungarian economy since 2010. The country avoided bankruptcy and its 2014 GDP growth outpaced that of the Czech Republic and Poland. Viktor Orbán’s economic reforms therefore seem to have been the appropriate response to the Hungary’s economic misfortunes. The jury is, however, still out on whether those policies laid lasting fundaments for long-term growth.

Hungary is the first Central European country (since the anti-communist revolution triggered by Solidarność movement) that is experimenting with an independent economic policy. The results of Viktor Orbán’s experiment, if ultimately judged positive, could have profound consequences for the other countries in Central Europe and beyond.