Rebuilding the Hungarian Right Through Civil Organization and Contention: The Civic Circles Movement

39 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2017

See all articles by Bela Greskovits

Bela Greskovits

Central European University (CEU)

Date Written: July 2017


Starting in 2010, the Fidesz party achieved in a row six (partly landslide) victories at municipal, national, and European Parliament elections. Not questioning other explanations, my ongoing research traces the remarkable resilience of the ruling party above all to earlier “tectonic” shifts in civil society, which helped the Right accumulate ample social capital well before its political triumph. This process was decisively advanced by the Civic Circles Movement founded by Viktor Orbán after the lost election of 2002. This movement was militant in terms of its hegemonic aspirations and collective practices; massive in terms of its membership and activism; middle-cIass based in terms of social stratification; and dominantly metropolitan and urban on the spatial dimension. Parallel to contentious mobilization, the civic circles re-organized and extended the Right’s grass-roots networks, associations, and media; rediscovered and reinvented its holidays and everyday life-styles, symbols, and heroes; and explored innovative ways for cultural, charity, leisure, and political activities. Leading activists, among them patriots, priests, professionals, politicians, and pundits, offered new frames and practices for Hungarians to feel, think, and act as members of “imagined communities”: the nation, Christianity, citizenry, and Europe.

Keywords: Civil Society and the Struggle for Right-Wing Hegemony, Versatile Nationalism, Church-Bound Activism, "Organic Intellectuals” of Right-Wing Media

Suggested Citation

Greskovits, Bela, Rebuilding the Hungarian Right Through Civil Organization and Contention: The Civic Circles Movement (July 2017). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2017/37. Available at SSRN: or

Bela Greskovits (Contact Author)

Central European University (CEU) ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest, H-1051

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