The conference, due to the current global pandemic circumstances, was held online on 24 June 2020 on the subject of liberal tendencies in the V4 countries and their future cooperation within and outside of the EU. Due to the pandemic, the webinar was held in Zoom, where the speakers could also reflect on the audience questions.
The conference was opened by Dániel Mikecz (Senior researcher of Republikon Institute) with a short description of the topics of the conference.
Csaba Tóth (Board member of the European Liberal Forum) greeted the participants with his opening thoughts afterwards. He introduced the European Liberal Forum. He pointed out that some voices in the European political field claim that there is no liberal inclination in the V4 region. However, he drew attention to the fact that new liberal parties are appearing and there is a strong liberal presence in these countries.
The participants of the roundtable were Andrea Virág (Director of Strategy, Republikon Institute), Blazej Lenkowski (President of the Board, Fundacja Liberte!) and Šárka Prát, (Executive Director, Institute for Politics and Society).
The panelists began their conversation with the purpose of the V4 cooperation after the EU accession. Our guests talked about illiberal tendencies and populism that are being experienced in the region and also the possible countermeasures of these symptoms were debated. In course of the discussion, our experts examined the current epidemic situation and how it may affect the economic and political situation in the V4 countries. The speakers also reflected on how the post-pandemic world can affect the liberal parties and movements.
Talking about the pandemic and its effects on the countries in the region, she mentioned that even though Hungary and other V4 countries have experienced a relatively low number of Covid-19 cases, the economic consequences will be serious. At the same time, Andrea Virág argued, the pandemic and the current circumstances give an opportunity for the opposition and liberal parties in such countries to show their capability of governing and ideas regarding how to handle the crisis.
Blazej Lenkowski also talked about the importance of the current situation in terms of the revival of liberalism. He noted that it is crucial for the revival of liberalism that liberal parties show they are capable to win an election what might happen in the second round of the presidential election in Poland. He mentioned that not just in Hungary but also in Poland a visible fight is going on between the government and local governments for funds.
Šárka Prát talked about that illiberal tendencies in the V4 countries can be challenged by mobilizing the civil society and pointing out to the government’s political corruption. She noted that although populist parties are still winning elections at the national level in the V4 countries, the result of municipal elections show that there are local actors who can give a real opposition to the populist’s policies, such the Mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony or the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski.
This event was organised by Republikon and the European Liberal Forum with the financial support of the European Parliament. Neither the European Parliament nor the European Liberal Forum are responsible for the content, or for any use that may be made of it.