Hungary

   

Executive Capacity

#36
Key Findings
Despite the state’s sweeping consolidation of power, Hungary falls into the bottom ranks (rank 37) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this issue has declined by 0.6 points relative to 2014.

The Prime Minister’s Office is the central coordinating body, acting to ensure that policies are in line with the governing party’s ideology. This sometimes creates bottlenecks. Informal decision-making dominates, with Prime Minister Orbán guiding virtually all important decisions. A new technological modernization plan has somewhat boosted the government’s strategic orientation.

The government does not systematically engage in RIAs or ex post evaluations. Public consultation largely takes the form of manipulated citizen questionnaires. Government communication is coherent, but is designed to bring public discourse into conformance with the prime minister’s policies.

Ministerial compliance, while always high under Orbán, has improved further after a post-election cabinet reshuffle. Regulatory enforcement is often biased when the interests of key oligarchs are at stake. Relations with the EU hit a new low after the European Parliament criticized the government for violating European rules and values.

Strategic Capacity

#41

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
3
The Orbán governments have subordinated all political actions to the goal of consolidating their power and have reacted to problems and challenges on a day-to-day basis, without reference to an over-reaching plan. The economic and fiscal priorities have frequently shifted, and not much effort has been invested in building institutional capacities for strategic planning. After the 2014 local elections, Orbán promised to elaborate a long-term development strategy for the country but has failed to do so thus far. In late 2016, the government announced the adoption of the third Széll Kálman Plan, a new plan for economic development in the tradition of two strategic documents adopted in 2011 and 2012. Instead of drawing up such a plan, however, the Orbán government became increasingly preoccupied with the campaign for the parliamentary elections in April 2018 and switched to a “campaign government” modus in fall 2017. Since the 2018 elections, the government has begun preparing a long-term technocratic modernization project to be managed by the newly created Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM).

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
2
The Orbán governments have shown no interest in seeking independent and knowledge-based advice and have alienated many leading experts who initially sympathized with them politically. The culture war waged by Fidesz and the growing restrictions placed on academic freedom have further intensified this alienation. Fidesz has also invested considerably in creating a network of partisan experts in fake independent institutions that can influence public opinion and has used such institutions to give a voice to government views in the international debates. There is a relatively new, pseudo-professional Institute, Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokért Központ), which tries to deliver legal arguments against the criticisms voiced by EU institutions and/or Hungarian professional NGOs acting as watchdog organizations. For the politics of historical memory, Veritas Institute plays the same role. Altogether, spinning seems to have replaced advice based on facts.

Interministerial Coordination

#15

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
7
The Orbán governments have steadily expanded both the competencies and the resources of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The PMO is central in policy coordination and makes sure that policies are as close in line as possible with the prime minister’s policy preferences and Fidesz’s ideological rhetoric. The PMO is supported by five background institutes with about 200 employees paving the ground for ideological coherence. The Veritas Institute, an institute of contemporary history, is the most important among them. Its main role is to rehabilitate the Horthy era. The usual expert bases are the Nézőpont and Századvég Institutes, both with well-paid, but strongly biased researchers. In addition to the PMO, there is the prime minister’s cabinet office. Under its head Antal Rogán, it has developed into a ministry with state secretaries and undersecretaries responsible for government communication.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
8
Under the Orbán governments, line ministries have mostly acted as executive agencies that follow orders from above and whose activities have been subject to detailed oversight by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The PMO has made sure that policies are as close in line as possible with the prime minister’s policy preferences and the ideological rhetoric. However, the strong coordination capacity of the PMO has also meant that it has sometimes become a bottleneck in the process of policymaking. Moreover, the co-existence of the PMO and the Cabinet Office has created unnecessary complexity.

Citations:
Hajnal, G., K. Kádár, É. Kovács (2018): Hungary, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 426-459, 442-443 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/ae181e42-960 1-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
7
Given the dominant role of the PMO and the small number of ministries, cabinet committees played a much less significant role under the second and third Orbán governments than under previous governments. Whether or not the institutional changes after the 2018 elections will have an effect on the role of cabinet committees remains to be seen.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
5
Given the relatively small number of ministries in Hungary, interministerial coordination has, to some extent, been replaced with intra-ministerial coordination, especially within the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI), the largest superministry. In addition to policy coordination by the PMO, senior ministry officials meet in order to prepare cabinet meetings.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
10
The strong formal role of Prime Minister Orbán and his Prime Minister’s Office is complemented by informal coordination mechanisms. As the power concentration has further increased in the fourth Orbán government, so has the role of informal decision-making. Formal mechanisms only serve to legalize and implement improvised and hastily made decisions by the prime minister. Orbán travels with his personal staff and rules the country by phone calls as a “remote control” that terrifies medium-level politicians. If the prime minister is not available or not ready or able to decide, issues remain in the air without any decision being made. Orbán regularly brings together officials from his larger circle in order to give instructions. Many decisions originate from these meetings, which subsequently ripple informally through the system before any formal decision is made. These informal coordination mechanisms make rapid decision-making possible. Given the pivotal role of the prime minister, this system encourages anticipative obedience, but also creates a bottleneck in the implementation of decisions and precludes any genuine feedback.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
6
The second and third Orbán governments did not pay much attention to the digitalization of government activities in general and of interministerial coordination in particular. The entry of the fourth Orbán government might represent a turning point. As the government has sought to enhance the competitiveness of the Hungarian government through technical modernization, the newly created Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) has set more ambitious goals with respect to digitalization.

Citations:
Hajnal, G., K. Kádár, É. Kovács (2018): Hungary, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 426-459, 455-456 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/ae181e42-9601-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

Evidence-based Instruments

#37

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
4
The Orbán government amended the Act on Lawmaking (Act of CXXX of 2010) that included provisions on RIA. It established the Government Feasibility Center and assigned it to the Ministry of Justice. In practice, RIA has suffered from sluggish implementation and has been applied almost exclusively in the environmental context and/or in cases where international obligations have demanded it.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
2
The quality of the RIA process in Hungary has been poor. Stakeholder participation is usually lacking, since the very idea of consultation has been alien to the Orbán governments. RIA performance has rarely or only partially been made available to political actors on the special website for RIA (hatasvizsgalat.kormany.hu).

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
2
The Hungarian parliament passed a National Sustainability Strategy in March 2013 and afterwards the parliament’s environmental committee was transformed into the Committee of Sustainable Development (consisting of parliamentarians) and supported by the National Sustainability Council. However, the Sustainability Strategy and RIA processes have not yet been coordinated because sustainability checks are not an integral part of RIA.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
3
There is no formal framework for carrying out ex post evaluations in Hungary. Such evaluations are rarely carried out since the Orbán governments have been more interested in exercising political control than in the effectiveness of their measures.

Societal Consultation

#41

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
2
The Orbán governments have largely refrained from consulting with independent societal actors. Orbán has argued that the government’s strong parliamentary majority has vested it with sufficient legitimacy to carry out profound changes without consulting stakeholders. Instead, the government’s main means of “listening” to society and citizens has been the so-called national consultations, fake referendums based on letters to citizens with misleading and manipulated questions. While the government justifies the national consultations as evidence that it is listening to the people, their real functions are the mobilization of Fidesz voters on a permanent basis, not the least by making it possible to compose lists of those who have answered these letters. In early November 2018, the government launched the 8th national consultation focusing on the support for families.

Policy Communication

#10

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
7
The government tries to maintain coherent communication by taking drastic disciplinary measures at all levels. Most Fidesz politicians avoid journalists. At public events, they do not give interviews, but confine themselves to reading out texts written by the Cabinet Office, which is headed by Antal Rogán. The government also seeks to control the agenda by launching new topics to divert public attention away from problems raised in the media that can reflect poorly on Fidesz. Government communication is coherent, but it is not designed to communicate information. It is instead an instrument of power politics aimed at bringing public discourse in line with the prime minister’s and governing party’s will. It uses fake news and manipulative strategies to achieve this goal.

Implementation

#33

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
5
The Orbán governments have been quite successful in consolidating political power, centralizing policymaking and weakening the remaining checks and balances. At the same time, they have largely failed to meet broader goals such as fostering long-term sustainable economic growth or increasing productivity and innovation in the private sector. The low degree of government efficiency has been illustrated by frequent policy changes in all policy fields and by the lack of coordination of the key policy fields, caused by selection of personnel based on party loyalty, not on merit, and by putting ideology over problem solving. A central problem has been the poor implementation of new bills and regulations. Overhasty policymaking has led to incoherent and contradictory laws and regulations, making things very difficult for local and county administrations. A case in point is family policy, where the central goal of stopping the decline in population numbers has not been achieved, despite the fact that various measures have been implemented since 2010.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
9
Under the Orbán governments, Orbán’s strong and uncontested position as party leader and prime minister, as well as the strong capacities of the PMO, have ensured a high level of ministerial compliance. From 2014 to 2018, compliance diminished somewhat. The replacements for the purged Simicska followers were loyal, but incompetent, so that their actions were often chaotic. The increasing disorder led to soft resistance by János Lázár, the head of the PMO in the third Orbán government, who sometimes criticized the official line indirectly but publicly. The radical reshuffling of the cabinet after the 2018 elections has been aimed at raising ministerial compliance by bringing in committed ministers and by sending a strong signal that everyone is replaceable.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
10
The Prime Minister’s Office has successfully monitored line ministries in all stages of the policy process, enforcing obedience to the political will of the central leadership. As all core executive figures have been Fidesz party stalwarts, control has functioned largely through party discipline. Those who have failed to keep discipline, even in comparatively insignificant matters, have lost their positions. The existing civil-service legislation has made it easy to dismiss public employees without justification.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
10
The Orbán governments have closely controlled the appointment and activities of the heads and core executives of all state agencies at the national level. The centralization of state administration in county-level government offices has extended the government’s control over all subnational agencies, since they have been concentrated in these county offices. As in the case of line ministries, the government has adopted a hands-on approach and has closely monitored the agencies’ implementation activities.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
2
The transfer of competencies from the subnational to the national level has gone hand in hand with an even stronger reduction in subnational governments’ revenue sources. As a result, the latter have fewer resources for the remaining tasks than before. Moreover, central government grants have been discretionary and unpredictable. Municipalities and counties with an influential Fidesz leader have been in a better position to get additional funding; the other have been confronted with the newly introduced “solidarity tax” imposed upon rich municipalities. A good case in point of the problems associated with the discretionary budgeting of the central government is Budapest, which has suffered from funding conflicts between the government and the city, since it has been perceived by Fidesz leaders as a left-liberal stronghold, even though it has a Fidesz mayor. Due to the budgeting problems in late 2018, the settlements’ financial resources have been curtailed and, in many cases, there are not enough resources to carry out basic functions in the settlements such as garbage collection.

Citations:
Hajnal, G., K. Kádár, É. Kovács (2018): Hungary, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 426-459, 434-435 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/ae181e42-960 1-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
3
The government has decided to tackle the long-lasting problem of inefficient subnational governance by introducing a wave of centralization accompanied by the deconcentration of state administration – with mixed results. The second Orbán government initiated a far-reaching reform of local governments. The government has established new tiers of state administration at the county and district level that were given some of the functions previously exercised by local and other subnational self-governments. This stripping of competencies has been especially severe in the case of the city of Budapest, a traditional liberal stronghold which has since lost its special role in national politics. On the one hand, the reform lifted a significant burden from smaller units, as it professionalized services in deconcentrated state bodies. On the other hand, the general shift of competences did not at all improve self-governments’ performance flexibility in those areas remaining under their control. As a result, both the formal powers of subnational self-governments and their capacities to make full use of these powers have declined. Local Fidesz strongholds like Debrecen seem to have enjoyed special treatment in the process of allocating EU funds.

Citations:
Hajnal, G., K. Kádár, É. Kovács (2018): Hungary, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 426-459, 429-430 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/ae181e42-960 1-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
4
In Hungary, the quality of subnational public services has suffered as a result of the reorganization of subnational governments. The state administration’s new subnational tiers have only gradually gained experience in providing services. The provision of those public services that have been left with subnational self-governments has in turn suffered from self-governments’ lack of financial resources and administrative capacities as well as from conflicting legal norms and the complexity of some regulations. The central government has exercised strong control but has not focused on quality issues. As a result, national standards have increasingly been undermined, especially in the fields of health care, education and social services.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
3
The Hungarian government can enforce regulations quickly and drastically. However, given the capture of the Hungarian state, agencies have acted ineffectively and with bias when the interests of important oligarchs have been involved.

Adaptability

#41

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
4
The Orbán governments have paid little attention to the adaptation of domestic government structures to international and supranational developments. In public, Orbán has stressed Hungarian independence, and has argued that his government is waging a freedom fight for national sovereignty against the European Union. Major institutional reforms have even reduced the fit of domestic government structures with international and supranational developments. The radical reduction in the number of ministries, for instance, has created huge problems with regard to EU affairs, as the ministries’ organization no longer matches that of other EU countries or the structure of the European Union’s Council of Ministers. There is often a mismatch in rank, as Hungarian ministers have to cover more Councils than their counterparts in other countries with more minister forming the government. Nonetheless, the administration ensures more or less that the acquis communautaire is implemented. Due to the high systemic corruption in the allocation of EU transfers, however, some transfers have been suspended.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
3
Since the beginning of the EU refugee crisis, Prime Minister Orbán has looked for an international role for himself and has increasingly been elevated to one of Europe’s “strong men” in the Fidesz press. He has intensified cooperation within the Visegrád group, especially on migration policy and has boasted about his good relationship with Putin and China. However, all these activities have further undermined his standing with other European leaders, especially as Orbán actively seeks to build alliances in Brussels against all projects not being in line with the new nationalist-populist ideology he follows. The Hungarian prime minister became the driving force in this respect. The conflict of the Orbán government with the EU further deepened in the refugee crisis and by the “Stop Brussels campaign.” It reached a new high in September 2018 when the European Parliament, with a two-thirds majority, passed the Sargentini Report criticizing the Hungarian government in detail for its violation of European rules and values. Questioning the voting procedure, the Orbán government has declared this resolution null and void. Due to Orbán’s uncompromising and aggressive behavior, calls to exclude Fidesz from the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament have grown louder.

Citations:
Kirchick, J. (2019): Is Hungary Becoming a Rogue State in the Center of Europe? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2019/01/07/is-hungary-becoming-a-rogue-state-in-the-center-of-europe/).

Organizational Reform

#27

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
8
In Hungary, there is no regular formal monitoring of the institutional arrangements of governing in place. However, there is strong and rather comprehensive oversight of the working of the state apparatus from the top down, measured against the political will of the leadership, and the government has been quick to change any institutional arrangements it has deemed to be politically dangerous. The Orbán governments underperform with regard to coherent policy planning but react quickly to failures in individual political cases or in major policymaking mistakes. Public policy has often been very volatile, changing according to the government’s current needs.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
2
From time to time, Prime Minister Orbán has reorganized the workings of his government with an open effort to get rid of managing smaller issues and promoting rivalry in the top elite to weaken them, but without improving the strategic capacity of government. The institutional reforms introduced since the 2018 elections have not been concerned with government effectiveness but with increasing its concentration of power and managing the fourth Orbán government’s new technocratic modernization project. The latter has a rather complicated functional and personal composition involving ten ministries and ministers (one of them, Mihály Varga, is also deputy prime minister), two ministers without portfolio and, in addition, one symbolic deputy prime minister (Semjén), not mentioning the large army of prime minister commissioners and ministerial commissioners. The structure of government has radically changed with new ministries and ministers and a new allocation of competencies. Only three ministries have kept their previous function and minister: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Péter Szíjjártó), the Ministry of Interior (Sándor Pintér) and the Ministry of Justice (László Trócsányi). The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Defense remained structurally unchanged, but new ministers (István Nagy and Tibor Benkő) have been appointed. The Ministry of Finance has been (re-)established as a central unity combining two former Ministries under the leadership of Mihály Varga. The Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) remains a superministry, both in terms of personal capacity and policy areas covered. It stretches over central policies such as health, education and culture. However, the ministry has lost competencies to the new Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM)(László Palkovics) and a new minister has been appointed (Miklós Kásler). The new minister without portfolio, Andrea Bártfai-Mager – the one and only woman in the government – is responsible for state property and state-owned enterprises. The other minister without portfolio is János Süli, responsible for the Paks-2 nuclear station. In addition, Zsolt Semjén – who represents the symbolic in nature Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) as an alleged coalition partner of Fidesz, but he is not running in the elections as a candidate does not figure in any public opinion survey – has stayed on as deputy prime minister responsible for the Hungarian Communities Abroad.
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