The Regime of National Repression
Budapest, József Nemes Lampérth, 1910
Orbán has named his reign the Regime of National Cooperation. This expression well defines the expectations towards anyone who wishes to survive in this environment: either you collaborate or you are declared an enemy of the state. In the heat of the election race, government officials went as far as to describe individual activists and artists as threats to national security. Fidesz remodelled state NGO funding as early as 2010, right after it came to power, and named one of its chief supporters head of the so-called National Cooperation Funds.
Watchdog organizations soon lost any state funding, and many others with less controversial profiles followed. Initiatives essential to amend the often failing education and social systems, expertise and complementary service providers for handicapped care, Roma integration, and many others, found themselves excluded, with just two major sources of funds remaining: the independently administered civic portion of the EEA and Norway Grants and Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
One of Orbán’s key ministers, János Lázár, led the government attacks on the EEA Grants NGO Programme and its grantees from 2014, a nationwide smear campaign plus outrages including police raids on NGO offices. Even though the organizations in question were all cleared later of the charges they had been accused of, the government never apologized or compensated them, instead turning their fire on the other major funder, Soros’ Open Society Foundations.