Education for a Christian nation: Religion and nationalism in the Hungarian education policy discourse
First Published January 27, 2022 Research Article
In the past decade, right-wing populist parties have brought back nationalism and religion into European politics. While a growing literature explores the political strategies, style and success of these parties and the challenge they pose to the European project, less attention has been paid to how right-wing populist governing is done at specific policy areas. This paper explores the education policy discourse of the Hungarian right-wing populist government. Drawing on the Discourse-Historical Approach to critical discourse analysis, the analysis concentrates on political speeches performed between 2010 and 2020 to examine the discoursive framings and strategies utilised in relation to three nodal points identified in the speeches: upbringing, teaching Christian values and the nation. While in the political rhetoric, a coherent religious nationalist, neoconservative narrative took form, over time this narrative shifted from a strategic project of crafting a new language to justify paradigmatic legislative and policy change to a language disconnected from policy work and predominantly displaying features of nationalist extremism. In the discussed period, as a combined result of the right-wing government’s Christian indentitarian project and the ambition of the Christian churches to increase their power and legitimacy, religion has increasingly permeated the secular spaces of Hungarian education.