Against to illiberalism - Report

Report of our online conference, supported by Atlas Network


Against to illiberalism - Report

Republikon Intézet

The online round-table conference, organized by the Republikon Institute with Atlas Network, involving experts examined the region about the current situation, future visions and options for action against illiberal powers. The discussion was moderated by Andrea Virág, Director of Strategy of the Republikon Institute.

The participants of the conference were Gian Marco Bovenzi (IT) (project manager, Fondazione Luigi Einaudi), Necula Ciprian (RO) (operative director, USR), Blazej Lenkowski (PL) (president, Liberté!), Márton Schlanger (HU)(researcher, Republikon Institute).

At the conference, Andrea Virág first asked the experts about liberal voters and whether we can talk about liberalism in their countries in a cultural or economic sense. He was also interested in how the parties represent liberal values ​​and who the main illiberal actors are and whether they are successful, what are the obstacles and opportunities in the fight against illiberal tendencies, and the role of the European Union was also discussed. 

Gian Marco from Italy, he thinks it is difficult to define the meaning of liberalism in the country, and officially there is not a single party that represents liberal values, but there are liberal voters who are committed to the right or the left. According to the expert, liberalism is not in good shape, and now liberalism is not the best for the people economically, although in the country it prevails in this sense, but in cultural terms, human rights, the rule of law and other liberal democratic rights come to the fore. When it comes to identifying a liberal party, the liberal party is an attempt to say “own goal,” so even if there are liberals, they don’t call themselves that because liberalism can be associated with the right. There are illiberal tendencies and he also distinguishes between left and right illiberalism from a cultural and economic aspect. He believes that a strong Italian constitution will prevent the emergence of illiberalism and the rule of law is safe. There are cultural problems on the right because it is important to comply with the Vatican, but on the left it would not talk about an illiberal economy because it shows socialist traits. Led by Mario Draghi, the illiberal trend between the left and the right has grown. He thinks that, education and communication are significant and the main concern is that the parties are not renewed, there is no dialogue, unity between politicians and voters. Recently, due to the viral situation, citizens have lost faith in the EU and it would be up to the parties to restore it.

Necula Ciprian said from Romania that the PNL and the USR are present as liberal parties. The liberal PNL has a hundred-year historical background and strong values, both culturally and economically. The USR has the same values, but there are differences in that it is a new party that has spawned a need for transparency and is fighting corruption. They would like to bring what is really happening in Parliament closer to the people. So the old and new political systems are at war with each other, but the parties are losing voters. The USR encourages other parties to represent their values ​​as Romania needs new parties. He added that new parties would be needed across Europe because the way old parties work favors extremists. He thinks they were lucky that illiberalism could not materialize because of the opposition of the people, so the biggest test of Romanian democracy in the last forty years was this movement. According to him, the key is that politicians need to be honest with the citizens, to inform them, because there is currently a communication war going on and the one who communicates better wins. The EU is an important player because of its financial resources, so they have the opportunity to take action against countries that are heading in the wrong direction. The EU should communicate directly with the citizens of the Member State, because what comes to them through the government is not enough. He describes the disappearance of liberal parties as an evolutionary phenomenon in politics, it is not yet known whether it is good or bad, but it is certain that people need to be better involved in everyday political life. He sees that in the next ten years new movements will emerge that will be more complex than just being defined as liberal or socialist.

Blazej Lenkowski from Poland’s perspective, he sees a paradoxical situation where the country is far from liberal values ​​because of the existing right-wing, populist government, but at the same time there is a growing trend for a new generation that is present in big cities and represents liberal values. According to him, major changes will take place in Poland in the coming years. The younger generation in their twenties is already much more open, but a major obstacle is the division between big cities and provinces. According to polls, 40% of voters live in villages that are conservative, profess traditional principles, and rely on the state. The problem is that these people are not connected to the liberal media, people, so he finds this the biggest challenge for liberals. The main political actors in the democratic system are the institutions. The current government is destroying democracy (rule of law, independence) and opposition parties are fighting it. There is a small liberal party in the country, as well as liberal values ​​in civic coalition, including left-wing parties, and there is a new liberal party that is a strange combination of green, conservative and liberal members. Illiberal actors are the biggest concern (Law and Justice), which is the strongest anti-liberal force.

Márton Schlanger in his opinion, 14% of voters in Hungary declare themselves to be liberal primarily, but there are more who think in liberal values. There are liberal parties such as. the Hungarian Liberal Party, which is below 1%, and the Momentum, which is a party around 7-8% and an important player in the grand coalition. Cultural opposition values ​​are present in the opposition coalition, but there are also left-wing and green values. The opposition prime ministerial candidate is right-wing, but shares cultural values ​​both culturally and economically. A big problem in Hungary is that illiberalism is on the agenda because of Viktor Orbán, because his government represents this. This is not a definition created by the opposition, they define themselves that way. A rebellion where normality opposes deviance, party and in their reading illiberalism manifests itself in the dismantling of checks and balances, in the control of public service and independent media, in the mockery of Euroscepticism, propaganda, combat rhetoric and democracy and core democratic values . Hungary is past a national primary because Fidesz has transformed the electoral system - the biggest obstacle - so there is no opposition with a controlling function. Viktor Orbán is fighting to win the EU's financial resources because he does not want to accept certain criteria. He thinks it is possible for the liberal parties to disappear because the word itself will lose its meaning and the parties will define liberal values ​​from other aspects. Liberalism can move in either direction because there are no liberal values ​​engraved in stone built into society.




Co-founded by the Europe for Citizens Programme
of the Europen Union