Gender as a Rhetorical Tool for Strengthening Illiberal Democracy in Hungary

In this article, Bianka Vida explains how the Hungarian government uses gender as a rhetorical tool to strengthen its illiberal regime. The so-called “gender theory” is a threat to any right-wing populist government, including Fidesz in Hungary. Starting from the Hungarian example, Vida illustrates how gender is exploited by right-wing political parties to expand illiberal democracy. What is the role of the EU in this illiberal transformation, and what will be the future of Universities proposing courses on gender studies?

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#IstandwithCEU

Yesterday, Sunday 2nd April 2017, 10.000 people rallied in the streets of Budapest to reclaim academic freedom and ask that the Central European University (CEU) remains in the Hungarian capital. Today the government discusses the faith of one of he most important universities in Europe.

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The rally in front of the CEU’s main building, Budapest, 2 April 2017

The Hungarian government has proposed amendments to the National Higher Education Law that would make it impossible for CEU – and possibly other international institutions – to continue operations within the country.

What can you do:

  • Send a letter of solidarity (here the sample)
  • Make a pubic and official statement of support as many other institutions, organizations and academic departments and faculties already did (here the list of statements of support)
  • Sign the petition (here)
  • Check for updates on the official CEU’s website, section #IstandwithCEU (here)

The pacific demonstration was a response from the academic component of the city but also the mobilization of thousands of citizens worried about the authoritarian drift of Orbán’s government.

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Rally in front of the Parliament, Budapest, 2 April 2017

Soon there will be news about this story, because it seems like there is an urge to silence such a cumbersome voice. Hopefully the government will listen to the people who mobilized to reclaim academic freedom, and to Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who said: “Central European University is one of the most important higher education institutions not only in Hungary, but also in the European Higher Education Area. Therefore, I think it’s important that after the correction of possible irregularities, it can continue to operate in Budapest undisturbed.”