Working Paper

The Janus-faced Success Story

This paper offers a broad overview of the Hungarian development strategy over the past two decades. Combining historical and functional analysis, some major strengths and weaknesses are identified, with special emphasis on the country’s open-door policies and the role played by the European Union. The paper investigates why the impetus of institutional and financial integration was lost by about 2004 when policy drifting took over the role of strategies. Some ideas on how to remedy the situation are being offered. Paradoxically, the Hungarian success and failure both testify to the relevance of a neo-institutionalist/political economy approach to sustainable development. It also examines the limitations of external anchoring by the EU as well as of the spontaneous bottom-up evolution of institutions when policy drifting continues.