Hungary has a large subterranean politics, which is having a major impact on mainstream political parties. In particular, there has been a proliferation of ‘new’ opposition movements before and after the 2010 parliamentary elections. They vary in size, ideology, form, structure and their relationship with party politics. There is a broad spectrum, ranging from a sarcastic joke party (Two-Tailed Dog Party) through student organisations (Students’ Network) to parliamentary political parties (LMP) and the movement of the ex-PM Gordon Bajnai who governed in 2009–2010 with the backing of the socialist caucus (E14-PM). Even if not all of them are subterranean and clearly antiestablishment political movements (E14, LMP), they echo some voices of distrust of established parties and party politics and claim themselves committed to newer, participatory forms of decision making. Partly driven by that belief, they tend to be keen users of social media and other new technologies, which offer alternative communication and organisation methods.
How they operate, who they are, their relationship with other political parties and their likely future evolution is very difficult to discern. But together they are becoming increasingly important and represent a new type of movement: networked, internet savvy, motivated and visible – not just online. The nature of these movements is that they are in constant change: they can emerge quickly but can decline quickly as well. This makes it difficult to understand and estimate their impact on Hungarian politics more generally.
Although the focus of this study is Hungary, similar movements are emerging across Europe. It is important for mainstream political parties, analysts and academics to have a deeper understanding of these movements, so as to better respond to the concerns of their supporters, determine how it might affect future policy and decision making, and establish what opportunities there are to help encourage new forms of legitimate political activism within the framework of democratic governance.
The joint study of Political Capital and Demos UK can be downloaded from here.