Hungary’s ‘Rebalanced’ Media Ecology. Controlling the Narratives on Migration, Gender, and Europe

Hungary has the most restrictive migration policy in the European Union, and its discriminatory LGBT law and anti-European rhetoric keep alienating more liberal member states. Starting with a survey of Hungary’s ‘rebalanced’ media landscape, this essay explores the narrative dynamics of Viktor Orbán’s nationalist rhetoric. We focus on the government’s manipulative ‘national consultation’ strategy and billboard campaigns to show how new communication channels have been established which allow the government to address its national audience directly, making it largely independent of both legacy media and social media. We further argue that the “immigration and terrorism” narrative of 2015 is designed to fuel ontological insecurity and, like the recent narratives on both gender and Brussels initiated by Orbán, serves a dual purpose: it fosters the centripetal dynamics of Hungary’s nationalist narrative while fueling the centrifugal dynamics of an anti-liberal vision of Europe.

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