“The Stolen Transition” - Conspiracy Theories in Post-Communist and Post-Democratic Hungary


  • Péter Krekó


Similar to Poland, Hungary also experienced a peaceful transition from communism to democracy and market economy. The Hungarian Round Table Talks were organized in 1989, following the successful Polish model. While the Round Table Talks were similarly crucial in Hungary and in Poland in paving the way for institutional and political changes, and concluded in a very successful manner for the opposition parties, conspiracy theories similar to those seen in Poland (see Soral and Kofta in this issue) are proliferating in Hungary as well. The article argues that the rejection of the “compromises” around the transition is due to the very nature of populism: it likes black-and-white, Manichean logic. This article briefly introduces the process of the Round Table Talks and summarizes the literature’s findings on the general social psychological impacts of the transitions. Transitions always provide fertile ground for conspiracy theorizing as they are unexpected even with widespread consequences that fall beyond the control of most members of a society. But in Hungary, these conspiracy theories have been politically exploited in order to fuel discontent towards the democratic institutions - and in this way, they were instrumental in the “second transition”, the illiberal de-democratization after 2010.