Rowing against the european stream: re-centralization within the state of Hungary since the 2010 parliamentary elections - the case of the Hungarian Office of Public Administration and Justice

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This thesis investigates aspects of centralization within Hungary since the country’s 2010 Parliamentary elections. Brief summaries of each chapter of the thesis, in accordance with Corvinus University Thesis guidelines, start on page two. Extensions for policy and directions for future research are deferred to the concluding chapter and start on page 75. The first question I ask is: which factors opened a window-of-opportunity that put the, since 2010 incumbent, Fidesz administration in a position to launch an ambitious governmental reform program? This analysis is delineated in the macro-level analysis. By means of a case study, this thesis then examines how these centralization reforms affected organizational autonomy and patronage networks at the Hungarian central government level. These latter two subjects are addressed in the micro-level analysis. The thesis subject matters and various conclusions are summarized below. Section 1: Context, Literature, Research Method and Theoretical Framework. The research method followed, was, first to briefly discuss literature on centralization, organizational autonomy and patronage networks, and then introduce sets of theories and explanatory variables used for analysis. Additionally, I discuss the context under which this study was conducted and I introduce the research questions and hypotheses. Section 2: Macro-Level Analysis. My macro-level analysis both explains which factors opened a window of reform for the Fidesz administration, and why such reforms were not pursued before. I examined the centralization reforms through a framework that combines institutional and reform literature, focusing on Keeler’s window for reform framework. I demonstrate that Keeler’s theory adapts nicely to the Hungarian situation, but most effectively if it takes into account several of my considerations. Section 3: Micro-Level Analysis. My micro-level analysis is based on a case study on the Hungarian Office of Public Administration and Justice, a state agency established in 2012 as a result of the merger of five seemingly non-related semi-autonomous background agencies of the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. The establishment and pursuit of the centralization reforms has entailed two parallel processes: the expansion of patronage networks at formerly more autonomous central state agencies and, secondly, a decline in organizational autonomy. These conclusions are based upon considerable anecdotal evidence – most of which is reproduced in this work. Section 4: Conclusions and Extensions for Future Research. Here I discuss a number of implications for Hungary, for the European Union, and for public administration literature in general.
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