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Zoltán Lakner Links in the Chain: Patron-Client Relations in the Mafia State 1. The Exception Is the Rule The conceptual apparatus of the mafia state desires to attain a circumstance when not only “ordinary” corruption dominates the government, and not “simply” the occurrence of state capture has to be taken into account. The essence of the “octopus” is political and economic power that builds onto and within itself. It is not an external interest group that puts the management of the state under its control, but a coterie that acquires it “directly,” with the goal of mobilizing the complete array of assets of the state, from financial resources to legislation, for its private benefit. In this world of legalized corruption, the far-reaching and unquestionable supremacy of the central government takes precedence over the rule of law. In this context, it is useful to consider Giorgio Agamben’s study on the “state of exception,” in which laws are created for an emergency situation after the ruling majority has declared that an emergency exists.1 Agamben sees a threat to democracy lurking in the resulting state of exception, because in theory it denies the fundamental principle of modern legal practice that laws also apply to the legislators who create them. A characteristic feature of the expansion of the Orbán regime is identifying long-standing errors and poor operational practices, and launching a comprehensive “national rearrangement” in reference to these. It gives itself a “revolutionary” mandate, so that assets and responsibilities are transferred by the political dominance of a constituent majority into the hands of the government for a complete restructuring of the political and institutional sectors. i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 149 2016.12.07. 15:47 150 TWENTY-FIVE SIDES OF A POST-COMMUNIST MAFIA STATE The subject of poor governance enjoyed special attention in Hungarian political science and political analysis prior to 2010. György Jenei mentions divergences and “degeneration” in a study that summarizes conclusions drawn from a comparison of Hungarian public policy and European-wide trends. It was a divergence that Hungary adopted a market economy, liberal democracy, and rule of law much later than Western countries. Simultaneous with the development of democratic institutions, a market outlook began to take shape, followed almost immediately by the need to restructure public service on a historic scale due to EU accession. But he considers it degeneration that the functioning of public institutions displays the typical signs of political patronage. This has led to authoritarianism, corruption, the intermingling of personal affairs, and an excessive emphasis on politics, which endangers legality, efficiency , and outcomes. Jenei believes that this is further aggravated by the excessive use of private market practices in the public sector. These aspects he evaluates collectively as neopatrimonial degeneration.2 It is noteworthy that the institutional system of the Kádár regime, then in its final days, was also regarded by András Hegedüs in 1989 in patrimonial terms, which is characterized by the state and bureaucracy becoming the property of the ruling party and its instruments of power operated by the patrimonial bureaucracy.3 Francis Fukuyama has also used “neopatrimonial” as an attribute for modern governments, although in connection with Sub-Saharan African countries. These are characterized by leaders who use their political power to serve a network of clientele and supporters in a given country. This can lead to “predatory” behavior, when even a single person can expropriate a large portion of society’s assets. Elsewhere , there is “only” the self-interested economic influence of the state, such as when property rights are allocated to the members of a particular client group. It is also not uncommon that an administrative system following a formal modern pattern coexists with a neopatrimonial network and competes for resources with it. The outcome of this competition can hardly be in doubt, especially if the neopatrimonial system of government “is embodied in the president’s office.”4 Tamás Sárközy has coined the term “gangster governance” for when a group with a symbiotic relationship with crime takes over the state. In his view, a neopatrimonial system is a “milder” form of this, in which political and economic power are intertwined , and governance is designed to operate a client network.5 While emphasizing that a comparison of the post-2010 situation in Hungary with both Sub-Saharan countries and Hungary under state party i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 150 2016.12.07. 15:47...


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