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  • Writer's picturegaborscheiring

The Populist Radical Right and Health in Hungary

How do populists govern health? How are they handling covid19? We answer these questions by analyzing Viktor Orban's Hungary. Part of a book on the populist radical right and health.


In contrast to often peripheral Western European populist radical right (PRR) parties, Fidesz has held a supermajority in the Hungarian parliament since 2010 and has therefore been in a unique position to formulate and implement policy, constrained chiefly by the preferences of its broad electorate and past campaign promises. This chapter analyses Fidesz’s health policy measures since 2010. It finds that Fidesz has employed a mix of policy approaches in health care, including statist, liberal chauvinistic, and clientelistic reforms. Fidesz’s direct impact on health care is mixed: its smoking ban has been praised by international observers, whereas the continued underfunding of the health system has done little to improve care and population health outcomes. By undermining the welfare state with a shift to ‘workfare society’, the party has arguably had a clearer indirect impact on health, adversely affecting population health by increasing social insecurity and income and wealth inequality. Unlike its Western European populist radical right counterparts who tend to adopt clearer welfare chauvinistic or liberal chauvinistic approaches to health and social policy, Fidesz’s healthcare reforms do not fit into any current single concept of welfare state change.


Cite as: Moise, A.D., G. Scheiring & O. Löblová. 2021. “Populist Radical Right and Health in Hungary.” In The Populist Radical Right and Health: National Policies and Global Trends, eds. M. Falkenbach & S.L. Greer, 95-112. Cham, Springer. DOI:

Read the published chapter here. Download the accepted manuscript here. And the whole book is here.


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