Article Alert: Illiberal Environmentalism? The Case of Contemporary Hungary in Environmental History 4/2022

“A similar but slightly different theme emerges in Viktor Pal’s essay
about the Hungarian Fidesz Party, which, Pal suggests, has learned
how to use environmentalism as a tool in its governing strategy. As
Pal shows, Viktor Orban has not uniformly attacked environmentalism
in all its manifestations so much as made common cause with certain
outdoor activities that could be considered environmental while avoiding
economic regulation of the environment. For instance, trophy hunting
and hiking have gained the support of Orban’s government, while at
the same time Fidesz has gutted the Hungarian environmental protection
apparatus and opened protected areas for economic development.
Pal explains this apparent contradiction by placing Orban’s policies
the larger context of twentieth-century Hungarian environmental protection,
which was tightly linked to Magyar ethnic identity. Pal shows
that, aside from the period of Soviet control, Hungarian environmental
politics have always emphasized the connection between the Carpathian
Basin and its “rightful” Magyar managers, with the success of the
partnership measured in Magyar prosperity. In Pal’s telling, Hungarian
environmentalism has never been an ecumenical enterprise requiring
self-sacrifice in the service of nature, but rather an ideology inseparable
from ethnonationalism and the accumulation of wealth. As such, Pal
casts doubt upon Fidesz’s environmental policies—although, as is the
case for French and German right-wing populism, defining what constitutes
effectiveness contains a significant subjective component.”
Environmental History Journal Cover 4/2022

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