The COVID-19 pandemic already resulted in crucial economic and political changes globally. In an emergency situation, extraordinary measures by governments could be necessary, nevertheless, democratic institutions and minority rights should be respected. In Hungary, the parliamentary supermajority of the Fidesz party supported prime minister Viktor Orbán to govern with decrees without a temporal limit. Since March 30 not even the Fidesz MPs can control the government, which was crucial for Orbán in the tight-fisted management of the economic crisis followed by the pandemic. In Poland, the right-wing populist PiS party planned to hold the presidential election during the pandemic, which could harm the health of active citizens while could also have a negative effect on turnout. Beyond the national level in the European Union the coronavirus could backslide integration as borders are closed, the movement of persons is restricted and distrust in international organizations grew. Nevertheless, citizens in populist regimes are witnessing how the constricted public sphere and crooked governance lead to policy failures. Also, the need for international cooperation in challenging global risks might give a new momentum for European integration. In our project ‘Public opinion and the state of human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic in East-Central Europe’ we wish to assess the illiberal tendencies, freedom restrictions related to emergency measures and centralization during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subjective perception of these in the Czech Republic, in Hungary, in Poland, and in Slovenia. We are also interested if the emergency situations and special measures by central governments can have an irreversible effect on human rights and individual freedom. We are focusing in this regard on citizen’s reactions and attitudes. This volume summarizes the lessons of the project in four country- case studies. The volume’s chapters are demonstrating that right wing populist political forces deliberately exploited the pandemic to put forward their agenda of dismantling rule of law, media freedom and to undermine the liberal element of democracies.
The whole publication is available HERE.