Action for Democracy targets Hungary & ‘kleptocratic autocrats’


A new pro-democracy group launched Thursday with an initial focus on Hungary, casting it as the “next battleground state in the global fight to defend democracy,” and Viktor Orban – the “poster boy” for “kleptocratic autocrats,” Zachary Basu writes for Axios:

Action for Democracy executive director Dávid Korányi told Axios the nonprofit would be a counterweight to the “cabal of autocrats and dictators” that has grown in strength in recent years….  The group plans to use a grassroots fundraising model and work with civil society, independent media, and diaspora communities to broaden democratic participation.

This is “not just about Hungary,” Korányi said, but about confronting the “systemic risk” that comes from others emulating Orbán’s “nationalist populist model.” RTWT

Orbán is facing his most serious challenge since returning to power in 2010, notes Kati Marton, Founding Advisory Council Chair of Action for Democracy, and the author of The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel. Hungary’s normally fractious opposition has finally united behind a single candidate: Péter Márki-Zay, the conservative mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, a small, rural town in the center of the country, she writes for Project Syndicate. A devout Christian with seven children, Márki-Zay is running on a pro-European, pro-rule of law, anti-corruption platform. He describes himself as “everything that Viktor Orbán pretends to be.”

Almost half a million Hungarians (out of a population of 10 million) have opted to emigrate since Orban assumed power. Now we, the Hungarian diaspora, have a special responsibility to make our voices heard, so that tomorrow’s Hungarians will not have to realize their potential elsewhere, Marton asserts.

The Action for Democracy advisory council includes:

  • Kati Marton (chair),
  • Anne Applebaum, staff writer at The Atlantic
  • Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European history at Oxford University
  • Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University
  • Dr. Francis Fukuyama, director of Stanford’s Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy
  • Eleni Kounalakis, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, current lieutenant governor of California
  • Charles Gati, professor of European studies at Johns Hopkins University
  • Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO
  • Dr. Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia
  • Robert Boorstin, former national security speechwriter to President Clinton
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