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The Roots Of Illiberalism In Hungary And Central Europe FULL EVENT (National Endowment for Democracy, 2018)

By March 1, 2021No Comments

National Endowment for Democracy | February 16, 2018

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hungary and Poland were heralded as among the most successful cases of liberal reform of the former socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Yet two and a half decades later, authoritarian politics have reemerged in the public life of both countries. How can this puzzle of post-socialist illiberalism in Central Europe be explained? Some observers claim that countries in the region have never been truly democratic, and their recent turn merely fits an historical pattern. Others argue that the success of illiberal politics is rooted in the clever political maneuvering of authoritarian politicians. In his presentation, political economist Gabor Scheiring offered a third explanation. Based on new data and case studies, he argued that it is impossible to understand illiberalism’s role in Central Europe without analyzing the rightward shift of the working middle class and the political mobilization of the national business elite. His presentation shed light on the socioeconomic roots of the authoritarian turn in Hungary, while also offering comparative insights into recent developments in Poland and the Czech Republic. Christopher Walker offered comments.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.