Presentation of the BTI 2012 in Budapest
The BTI 2012 assesses a deteriorating quality of democracy throughout much of East Central and Southeast Europe. Massive infringements on participation rights and rule of law are prevalent in many countries, with particularly troublesome developments in Hungary. At the invitation of the Institute for World Economics and the Central European University the current BTI was presented in Budapest in May 2012.
Democrats and reformers in Budapest feel helpless against a populist wave that still maintains its grip on their country and claim to be abandoned by the EU. Protest against the systematic erosion of the separation of powers from Brussels and Berlin had been lukewarm at best, holds Prof. András Inotai, former Director of the Institute for World Economics. In an Interview with Project Director Hauke Hartmann, Inotai relates the rightist surge to the remaining income gap to Western Europe and disappointed expectations: "Either the EU or former governments are uniformly blamed for problematic social and economic developments." Hungarian society is deeply polarized, and many scholars, intellectuals and democrats desire more critical and independent assessments by leading international think tanks which might contribute to promote selfreflection in Hungary.
This is why the BTI-Project was invited to foster the analysis of the political and economic developments in Hungary with a presentation of the most recent BTI-results. Invited by the Institute for World Economics and the European Studies Foundation, a first presentation took place at the UniCredit Bank, whose President and Director of the Hungarian Bank Association Mihály Patai received a separate briefing on the BTI-results prior to the event. Hauke Hartmann and the BTI’s Regional Coordinator for East Central and Southeast Europe, Martin Brusis of Munich University, presented the methodology and the current BTI results to 100 scholars, politicians, entrepreneurs and journalists. The country report of the BTI 2012 holds that not only is freedom of expression compromised by the restrictive new media laws, but also is rule of law eroded by a weakening separation of powers.
The debate on transformation processes, their reversibility and the consolidation prospects fort he young democracies in Eastern Europe were continued the following day at the Central European University at the invitation of the Political Science Department and the "Center for the Studies of Imperfections in Democracies". Hauke Hartmann and Robert Schwarz also visited the International Centre for Democratic Transition and discussed possibilities of cooperation with Director László Várkonyi and the President of the Democracy Public Foundation István Gyarmati. Both the BTI project and the ICDT share the goal to improve networking with young decisionmakers from developing and transition countries to facilitate the exchange of learning experiences regarding the political management of transformation processes.