Sunday 25 October 2020

East-Central Europe: From Communism to Populism Online Conference

It is my honour and pleasure participating at East-Central Europe: From Communism to Populism Online Conference organized by Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest on 30th October 2020.

My lecture is: Liberal Democracy, Neoliberalism, Populism in the post-1989 Hungary.

Abstract: It has been argued in this lecture that the emergence of Hungarian populism after the 1989-transition cannot be understood without the investigation of the crisis of liberal democracy and the hegemony of neoliberalism. In the context if Eastern European transitions what has become hegemonic is not just liberal democracy, but the neoliberalism itself as the region has become the semi-periphery of globalized capitalism. These regime changes were crucial stages of neoliberal hegemony which has been euphemistically called the “third wave of democratization”. In fact, neoliberalism was not a newcomer in the Easter Block, but there were several strategies how neoliberalism has been implemented into these societies. Hungary was the leading country even before the regime change which embraced neoliberal policies, privatisation and macroeconomic stabilisation in the late 1980s. The liberal democracy and neoliberalism have inextricably been linked and this proved dangerous for liberal constitutionalism. After the regime change in Hungary, mainly in the 1990s there were a strong consensus about the liberal democracy and the liberal democratic institutional system. This consensus proved stabile at least until the first Orbán government, but the several kinds of crises in the 2000s plunged the liberal democracy into a serious crisis. It has been analysed here how the emerging populism of the Orbán regime after 2010 reinforced the agony of the liberal democracy by implementing several neoliberal agendas. I propose here that not just the nationalist and illiberal attitude of the post-2010 politics posed a significant challenge for liberal democracy, but the “embedded neoliberalism”.