Boda Zsolt - Micsinai István - Sebők Miklós: Agenda dynamics in Hungary

Abstract:  An old, and in some sense “over-researched” question is about the effect of the media on policy agendas. The general result, established by a number of studies, is that media thematisation inspires the policy agenda, while the reverse effect is negligible: policy agenda is only weakly influencing what the media talk about (see Vliegenthart et al., 2016). However, Hungarian CAP data suggest that in new(er) democracies the media-politics nexus might be considerably different from the patterns typical in established democracies. In a previous paper we found that in Hungary the media have a negligible effect on the policy agenda, while the latter have a strong influence on the media agenda (see Boda & Patkós, 2015). However, this conclusion resulted from a partly qualitative research and its design made the arguments somewhat shaky. Our ambition in this paper is to analyse the media policy agenda nexus in a quantitative way. We plan to extend the investigation to 24 years of Hungarian democracy, testing a hypothesis about the difference of the media effect under left- and right-wing governments, assuming that policy making under right-wing governments is even less responsive to the media. We will analyse the phenomenon of “parallelism” in the media, that is, how parallel media universes co-exist according to political sympathies and how differentiated their effect is on policy agendas (and vice versa) under governments of different colours. Finally, we intend to relate the patterns of media-politics effects to the stages of democracy. The quarter century of Hungarian democracy has been divided by scholarly work into three stages: transition period, consolidated democracy and crisis. We assume that the role of the media has been different during the different stages: it was weaker in the transition as well as the crisis periods and stronger during the consolidation phase when Hungarian democracy was the closest to the Western model of democracy. However, at the present stage and in this research note we limit our attention to the patterns of the media-policy agenda in the 2010-2014 parliamentary cycle.

Language: english

The manuscript is available here.