Research / Christianity and democracy

Identifying Christian democratic elements in politics

Abstract: The dilemma of whether a political party represents Christian democratic values in the public sphere ‘truly’ is exposed to day-to-day political debates. This article would like to contribute to the understanding of Christian democratic politics by presenting different paths to identify the presence of Christian democratic elements in politics.


In March 2021 a two and a half years long political conflict arrived at a new phase when the major Hungarian government party, the Fidesz left the European People’s Party (EPP)[i]. Political debates generally have several dimensions, still, the normative part of this debate reflected on the question of who represents the traditional values of the EPP, for instance, Christian Democracy ‘truly’. From 2018, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán calls its government[ii] (or even entire Hungary[iii]) Christian Democratic and criticizes EPP for its submission to liberal/leftist values and policies. The other side, Orbán’s EPP opponents are not quiet either. When it became clear that Fidesz MEPs will leave the EPP fraction of the European Parliament, Manfred Weber (largely replying to Orbán’s former political statements) has said: “We don’t need any kind of lessons on our values in the EPP. This is about the provocations against Europe, about fundamental rights and rule of law. They moved away from the EP, we did not”.[iv] Another comment came from, then the President of the EPP, Donald Tusk in a form a tweet when Fidesz quit the EPP: “FIDESZ has left Christian Democracy. In truth, it left many years ago.”[i] Fidesz MEP, Balázs Hidvéghi responded, that EPP “has left Christian Democracy, so Fidesz has left EPP”.”[ii]

Now, who is right in this political ding-dong? A few answers could be found from journalists, political commentators, and political scientists related to this question. For instance, both in Hungarian domestic and international journalism, Fidesz’s “Christian democratic” disguise (in short, that it is a kind of rhetoric without true representation of Christian democratic values) is a common notion[iii]. Yet EPP also receives negative comments for being more the progressive center than traditional Christian democratic. However, based on the lack of comprehensive analyses in the broader field, this article intends to deepen the understanding of Christian democratic politics by presenting different paths to identify the presence of Christian democratic elements in politics. First, some definitions of Christian democracy will be cited in order to interpret them as possible analytical tools. Then, some of the most comprehensive characterizations will be presented, which, we argue, could be proper instruments for our purposes. In the last, concluding part of the article four possible areas of application will be suggested...


[i] TUSK, Donald: Fidesz has left… In: Twitter, 2018.03.18., (2021.09.08.)

[ii] VASKI, Tamás: Reactions to Fidesz Quitting EPP: ’Fidesz has left Christian Democracy long ago’. In: Hungary today, 2021.03.19., (2021.09.08.)

[iii] CSABA, László: „Az új magyar kereszténydemokrácia nem más, mint az illiberális demokrácia új csomagolása” (Kérdező: Farkas Zoltán). In: Mozgó Világ 44(7-8), 2018, (2021.09.08.); MÜLLER, Jan-Werner: 'False Advertising': Christian Democracy or Illiberal Democracy? In: Balkan Insight, 2020.02.03., (2021.09.08.)


[i] DEUTSCHE WELLE: Hungary: Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party quits European People's Party. In: Deutsche Welle, 2018.03.18., (2021.09.08.)

[ii] ORBÁN, Viktor: Orbán Viktor a Kossuth Rádió „180 perc” című műsorában (Reporter: Katalin Nagy). In:, 2018.05.04., (2021.09.08.)

[iii] ORBÁN, Viktor: Orbán Viktor beszéde a Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség XXVIII. kongresszusán, in:, 2019.09.29., (2021.09.08.)

[iv] ZALÁN, Eszter: Relief in EPP group, as Orbán’s party finally leaves. In: Euobserver, 2021.03.04., (2021.09.08.)

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