Hungary's punitive turn: The shift from welfare to workfare

September 21, 2018

The article by CPS researcher Zsuzsanna Vidra was published in the journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies (Volume 51, Issue 1).


The Hungarian post-communist welfare state was created under the neoliberal influence of international organisations while retaining lots of elements of solidarity. The growing social tensions in the mid-2000s due to a second economic crisis in the new millennium led first the left then the right wing governments to shift the post-communist welfare state into a punitive type of workfare system. The article concludes that the political populism of the mid-2000s leading to an undemocratic governance by the 2010s better explains this paradigm shift than – as many authors argue - the neoliberal influence frame.

Keywords: Hungary, Neoliberalism, Post-neoliberalism, Public work, Post-communist welfare state, Workfare

The article is available online on