Lecture: Blindfolding citizens for the greater public good

Steps and reasons of distorting freedom of information in Hungary

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The lecture aims at analyzing the devolution of the act on freedom of information in Hungary in the last 5 years.
It presents the current situation from the perspective of Hungarian legislators (and their arguments trying to cover up corruption), and of human right defenders (who fight against reducing amount and quality of public data). It also asks the question: what can we do to protect social publicity even in a hostile environment?

In 2010, for its first term, the reigning party alliance gained constitutional majority and started to redesign Hungary. During the past years, the legal and political system has changed profoundly creating space to state capture and crony capitalism. Besides distorting checks and balances, the most important characteristics of this period is the prevalence of crony-tailored legislation, government supported rent-seeking behavior, ad hoc favoritism, hand-picked conflict of interest rules that are accompanied with the systematic restrictions of freedom of information.

The aim of the tailored legislative acts from these years was all along to avoid recurrence of public data requests submitted by investigative journalists and NGOs, since these requests were (and sometimes still are) successfully enforced during judicial procedures that always lead to huge corruption scandals.

First, the lecture shortly describes the most important legislative milestones of the freedom of information setback (from the past 5 years). Second, it will present the cases that inspired the restrictions. Third, it devotes special attention to arguments used for these amendments which sheds light on the social psychological aspect of approaching to political freedoms in Hungary. (ie corruption has become equal with serving the utmost national interest and giving rise to a national plutocracy).

Then finally asks how the government can have a complete disregard even to the provision of the Fundamental Law: “everyone shall have the right […] to access and disseminate data of public interest” and what aware citizens can do to preserve social openness and publicity even in hostile and hipocrite times.


Day: 2017-11-04
Start time: 12:00
Duration: 00:45
Room: Smalltalk
Track: Changing society: Redefining social structures for resilience.
Language: en


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