Political Capital in 2022
We have had a few years that have fundamentally changed our immediate and wider environment, but even in the face of fierce competition, 2022 has proved to be one of the most paradigm-shifting. The war in our neighbourhood has also taken information warfare to a new level, which has had a significant impact on the Hungarian election campaign. The values guiding our work have been further reinforced: there is no conviction or interest that makes it justifiable for us to distort reality. As an institute committed to parliamentary democracy, human rights, market economy and a Western orientation, this year, we have continued to promote clarity, fact-based and public discourse through research, analysis, and initiatives.
Over the past year, not only our team has grown, but also our network of national and international contacts, research, analysis and events.
2022 in numbers:
- more than 1000 domestic media appearances
- 450 international media appearances, in 50 countries, in 31 languages
- 860 Facebook posts
- nearly 150.000 views on our videos
- 25 events
- 17.000 followers on Facebook
- 3300 followers on Twitter
- 15 podcasts
- the second Budapest Forum, with nearly 400 guests and 12.000 online followers
As well as numerous studies, analyses, guest posts, interviews and statements.
The director of our institute, Péter Krekó and our analysts are regular commentators for leading foreign newspapers. Over the past year, we have been interviewed by CNN and Politico on the increasingly pro-Russian narratives and attitudes of the Hungarian government, on its outsider status in the European Union, or on its doublespeak about the war in Ukraine. The Hungarian parliamentary elections were also a major topic on the international stage, Róbert László, PC's election expert was interviewed by journalists from the New York Times, the Guardian and the Financial Times.
This year, the Budapest Forum conference was a success again. The event, organised by the Municipality of Budapest, Political Capital, and CEU Democracy Institute, hosted national and international thinkers for the second time and gave space to innovative, unusual and bold ideas and proposals. This year, the focus was on the war and its effects, the energy and climate crises.
Timothy Garton Ash and Francis Fukuyama were also our guests at the event, who discussed the international influence and isolation of the Orbán government. The conference also hosted experts familiar with the Putin regime, such as Ilya Yablokov and Sergei Guriyev, who discussed how an autocracy uses disinformation to build and consolidate its power.
We also organised a four-part online conference series in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Jelen. In our event in May, we discussed the question of what is the point of sanctions against Russia, in our study we looked at the good and bad practices of sanction policies. We wrote a paper and organised an event on the overt and covert privatization in healthcare, but we also discussed the social and political consequences of the European crises, or how has the populist threat replaced the threat of the far right.
Political Capital's work at the beginning of the year was shaped by the Hungarian parliamentary elections. We have provided short analyses of the main issues in the campaign, we launched a quiz series in cooperation with 24.hu and wrote about the anomalies of the postal votes. We have also published a comprehensive description of Hungary's extremely complex electoral system, and we made an educational video.
From autumn 2022, we published regular podcasts every two weeks. Our analysts and guests tried to make current political issues more understandable. We have talked about the energy crisis in Europe, the balance of Hungary’s international influence-building efforts, or on how modern dictators are building information autocracies.
Political Capital, with the support of NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, analysed NATO's role in our country. We have published guest articles by experts, who have also presented their arguments at our events. In our video – in collaboration with HVG – we give tips on how to avoid information traps on the internet.
In recent years anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation has become one of the main elements of the politics of the Hungarian and Polish governments and governing parties, and one of the main tools of gaining and keeping political power. In the frame of a research, Political Capital, together with our Polish partner the Projekt: Polska Foundation aimed to reveal the evolution of the Hungarian and Polish anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation, its political, social and legal contexts, main actors and narratives. Political Capital's research aimed to map the actors involved in anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation in Hungary as well as their networks abroad.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has opened a brand-new front for disinformation and influence operations. Political Capital with its partner organisations researched the narratives in four countries about Russia's war against Ukraine, spread mainly by extremist, populist radical right and pro-Kremlin actors.
Conspiracy theories about the United States also appeared in the mainstream press in the wake of the Russian war against Ukraine. This topic is analysed in our study, which examined the social perception of the United States in Hungary. We also hosted the internationally renowned investigative journalist and disinformation expert, Michael D. Weiss in June on this topic and research.
Russia has been using state financed propaganda to disseminate disinformation worldwide. Despite the restrictive measures put in place by the European Union targeting Russia Today and Sputnik, Russian war propaganda has been continuously disseminated in Hungary. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and Political Capital filed a joint complaint to the European Commission.
In October, the European Parliament's ING2 Committee examined the specificities of Russian state interference in the European Union, and in the context of Hungary, Péter Krekó, Director of Political Capital was invited as an expert to speak about the channels of Russian influence.
We analysed "online troll networks" in two phases. Our first research revealed the existence of potentially coordinated “online troll networks” on Facebook in all V4 countries, then in October our research presented the long-term narratives and coordination strategies used by trolls in the service of the war in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Romania.
Our year-end research looked at the effectiveness of the Hungarian government's anti-sanctions campaign. Shortly: It is. For example, it turns out that every second Fidesz voter believes the false claim that "the Hungarian government did not vote for sanctions".
International influence-building is a legitimate goal pursued by all nations to expand their room for manoeuvre and enforce their political, security and economic interests. Thus, although the Orbán regime justifies its international influence-building with national slogans – as we have shown in our study – it does not yet seem to serve the nation’s interests beyond the regime itself.
As we have for the past 21 years, we will continue our professional work based on respect for values and facts.
Thank you for your continued support and following us in 2022!