Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Mihály Gyimesi

Mihály Gyimesi

BGSS Generation 2012




Explaining the Wave of Contention During the 2010-2014 Orbán Administration in Hungary



Prof. Donatella Della Porta

Dr. Bernhard Forchtner (Advisor)



In the last few years Hungary has been regularly featured in mainstream international news because of various protest activities. From the large-scale, peaceful protests of the (mainly leftists and liberal) civil groups against the Fidesz government (particularly relating to the issue of the freedom of media) to the recent massive pro-Fidesz government (and EU-sceptic) marches, and student direct actions including university occupations: we can see many protest instances, Hungary has a very lively protest scene. A wide array of social actors mobilize reacting to previous protest and fostering future ones: street politics is endorsed by all main political sides (including the government), so we are witnessing a considerable protest wave. And while we have studies on the Hungarian protest scene from before 2010 (e.g. Ekiert and Kubik 1998, Vanhuysee 2004, Szabó 1996 and 2007) and international media have reported extensively on the current protest wave, we completely lack an academic account of it (a fact, that is naturally partly attributable to the recency of these events).What makes this case even more exciting is that the already mentioned large-scale pro-government marches are relatively rare phenomena considering that they happen in a EU democracy. This is most likely the biggest mobilization wave (including the oppositional and pro-government mobilizations too) since the 1989 democratic transition. Still, this national peak of mobilization meant rather contained events attended by the politically most active; and remarkably, the few pro-government marches, organized by GONGO's produced the highest turnout rates, occasionally attracting around a hundred thousand participants.

Thus in my doctoral dissertation I provide (1) a description of the protest wave in Hungary between 2010 and 2014 that is most likely the biggest one since the democratic transition. In describing the wave I cover the actors, the protest repertoires and the dynamics of protest. I also provide (2) an account of the causal factors leading to the emergence of this protest wave. In both steps I will pay special attention to the large-scale pro-government mobilizations that are rare in EU democracies and that are theoretically ignored. Furthermore, I seek to explain (3) the failure of oppositional mobilization.

I use protest event analysis (PEA) as my main method of inquiry to be able to grasp the dynamics of the mobilization and the relationship between variables describing protest, and I also employ critical discourse analyis (CDA) of proters' press releases to obtain a picture of the symbolic dimensions of mobilization. Additionally, I will analyze secondary survey data in order to be able to tackle the individual level of contention.


Recent Publications

Gyimesi, Mihály 2010. A belső beszéd vége? – Gondolatok egy új típusú cigány-diskurzus felépítéséhez. (English translation of the title: The end of inner-speech? Thoughts for building a new type of Roma-discourse) Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature, political and cultural weekly).