Nr 104 • Aprill 2012

Freedom of Speech in Hungary: A Politically Contested Issue for Twenty Years

Hungary has gone through an authoritarian turn in the past two years. Since the general elections in spring 2010, the legislature is dominated by a two-thirds majority of the right-wing Fidesz that can hence implement any constitutional changes. Fidesz has indeed used its constitutional majority to alter the entire constitutional system that had been established in 1989–1990. In April 2011, the parliament adopted a new constitution called ‘The Fundamental Law of Hungary’.

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Beyond the Sacred

To talk about blasphemy is also to talk about the idea of the sacred. To see something as blasphemous is to see it in some way as violating a sacred space. In recent years, both the notion of blasphemy and that of the sacred have transformed. What I want to explore here is the nature of that transformation, and what it means for free speech.

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This issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to one of the bulwarks of free and democratic societies – freedom of speech. There are various restrictions to free speech not just in authoritarian societies, but also in free or semi-free societies where there is no ubiquitous censorship or no official censorship at all. This issue focuses on some aspects of those limitations, e.g. problems stemming from the development of the Internet and taboos surrounding the concept of the sacred. We take a look at the situation of free expression in some European countries where that freedom is curtailed in more or less conventional ways.

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