Civilizáció (Civilisation): Coalition-building to fight back against government attacks on civil society in Hungary

22nd April 2020 by Eva Gondor

The Civilisation, a cross-sector coalition of Hungarian CSOs, came together to defend against government attacks on civil society.

Read the summary and find the full case study at the bottom of the page.

About the coalition

What launched the coalition? Democratic backsliding, smear campaigns, and legislative reform concerning funding and registration of CSOs.
Who are the members? Approximately 30 national CSOs form the inner circle of the network; they range across different sectors.
How does it work? A part-time coordinator supports the work; regular in-person meetings occur; there are protocols on decision-making; email lists and info-sharing.

Coalition action

Outcomes Members are now more resilient and better prepared for future threats; solidarity has been strengthend via the first cross-sector network in Hungary; they have conducted engagement with rural CSOs to try and undo the ‘chill factor’ of the government’s attacks.
Challenges The coalition was established in reaction to restrictions, and worked well in resistance; but how do you maintain collaboration in ‘standby’ mode?
Lessons learned How to cooperate, acknowledge different attitudes, approaches, appetites and agendas, and work with the diversity in a cross-sector coalition, as opposed to against it.

Get the case study

Background to our Pilot Solidarity Playbook Case Studies

This case study is one of six that reviews best practices, challenges, and lessons learned for both ICSO internal mechanisms and coalition responses to scrutiny and attacks. They show positive outcomes and new practices that were initially triggered by an undue threat or attack.

Written by Sarah Pugh and Deborah Doane, these case studies first appeared in an in-house study called “Solidarity in Times of Scrutiny” presented at the International Civic Forum in Addis Ababa in October 2019.

Thanks go to our case study partners for making their learnings available to a larger readership.

The presented case studies reflect the status of when they were first written up in October 2019. Naturally, the political situation as well as the organisations’ and coalitions’ learnings have since evolved and are constantly evolving.


Eva Gondor

Senior Project Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Eva leads on the Centre's civic space work - the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) aimed at strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors, and the International Civic Forum (ICF), our annual civic space platform to network and identify opportunities for collaboration. Prior to joining the Centre she worked at the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Foundation) in Stuttgart where she managed the foundation’s projects focusing on civil society and governance in Turkey, the Western Balkans, and North Africa.