Fidesz, the state-subsumption of domestic business and the emergence of prebendalism: capitalist development in an ‘illiberal’ setting

Rogers, Samuel (2020). Fidesz, the state-subsumption of domestic business and the emergence of prebendalism: capitalist development in an ‘illiberal’ setting. Post-Communist Economies, 32(5) pp. 591–606.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14631377.2019.1689001

Abstract

The Hungarian coalition government (Fidesz-KDNP), dwarfed by the much larger Fidesz party, has not only dominated the domestic political landscape since 2010 but also embarked on a widespread organised project of corrupt practice for the purposes of self-reproduction. These factors combine to make Hungary a highly unique politico-economic case amongst its post-socialist European peers. This article investigates a critical aspect of this phenomenon, namely, how far Fidesz has subsumed domestic business through an enlarging state–business relationship, described here by the Weberian term ‘prebendalism’. Using insights from data captured from elite interviews conducted in Budapest in 2017, this research discusses the origins of Fidesz longevity and the successes of the prebendal network in determining current and potential paths of capitalist development. Subsequently, it is argued that institutionalist approaches to capitalist development can maintain efficacy but must acknowledge the critical importance of political agency in determining such outcomes. Consequently, scope is provided for future research to investigate continued corrupt practice, prospects for changes to the external dimensions of the national political economy and regime strategies in Hungary and cognate ‘illiberal’ regimes, advancing nascent studies of comparative capitalism that have moved beyond focus on Eurozone and/or so-called advanced economies, to encompass developing markets.

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