Confronting pseudo Caesars with paper tigers : defending the right to vote

Thumbnail Image
Knapp, Mark T.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Concerned by the growing democratic erosion and international cross fertilization of right-wing authoritarian actors, this study employs a qualitative comparative analysis looking at authoritarian practices of two political parties, Republicans in the US and Fidesz in Hungary, and their attempts to sabotage accountability by suppressing the will of the people as expressed by the right to freely and equally vote. To discern the scope and effect of these authoritarian practices, this analysis examines prior scholarly research, legal cases and commentary, statutory law, journalistic analysis, news reports, NGO reports, and extensive personal interviews conducted in Budapest by the author of lawyers, journalists, Professors, researchers, and activists. It finds that with Hungary, authoritarian practices have been clandestine and gradual, albeit legal, and thus contrary to expectations given the weakening of the press, opposition, and courts in the recent democratic erosion to an electoral autocracy. The opposite is true in the US such that despite strong opposition, strong courts and press, the Republican authoritarian practices are blatant and bold evidencing a psychology of meanness. This study provides some analysis and explanation of these findings. This study also assesses, as ineffectual, the Human Rights mechanism and other legal avenues to challenge these authoritarian practices in each country, while suggesting a significant strengthening of International Election Observation as a possibly more effective tool for confronting authoritarianism. It concludes by urging action to confront authoritarians.
Second semester University: Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
democracy, authoritarianism, right to vote, Hungary, United States of America, human rights, election monitoring