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Minority Political Agency and Orbán’s Mono‑Pyramidal Rule: a Comparative Analysis of Effects of Hungarian Kinstate Policies in Romania and Ukraine after 2010 (2021-2022)


Publication: 10.58367/NECY.ODO.2022.1
Field of study: History, Sociology

My comparative analysis focusing on Hungarians in Romania and Ukraine tries to describe how Viktor Orbán’s kinstate policy affected minority political agency, e.g., strategies of ethnic bargaining and institutions governing minority elites. I investigate security-oriented approaches within the framework of international relations (IR) and I propose a broader analytical model for
mapping kinstate policy effects on minority groups. I have in view the changes that occurred after May 2010, when the second Fidesz government was elected. Post-2010 Hungarian kinstate policies foster a homogeneous concept of the nation and try to integrate minority Hungarians into the mono-pyramidal rule of Orbán’s increasingly authoritarian regime. This process, although detrimental to intra-ethnic democratic functioning, cannot be described properly through IR related models focusing on macro-political aspects and programmatic elements of ethnic bargaining. Therefore, I employ a more nuanced concept of
minority political agency including meso-level strategies of governing minority institutions and building networks of political patronage. Based on quantitative analysis of kinstate subsidies and semi-structured interviews conducted with key minority actors, I conclude that effects of Hungarian kinstate policy are the most visible at meso-level, as Hungarian communities were incorporated into Orbán’s regime through minority institutions. The comparison between the cases proved to be useful because I was able to distinguish between two different models of incorporation, a more monolithic local level intra-ethnic autocracy in
Ukraine and a more decentralized patronage-based incorporation in Romania. The dissimilitudes are due to initial differences in the organization of the two minority fields on the one hand, and the path-dependent relationship between Fidesz and the dominant minority elite faction, on the other.

Keywords: kinstate policy; ethnic politics; security; political patronage; minority institutions; extraterritorial nation building; Transylvanian Hungarians; Hungarians in Ukraine

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