Populism and reform movements in Central and Eastern Europe

Münster, Akademie Franz Hitze Haus | 16.12.2024 - 19.12.2024
Manager:Markus Leimbach
Spiritual companion:P. Prof. Dr. Thomas Eggensperger OP

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, new democracy and reform movements developed in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, intending to bring about change in their countries. After great initial enthusiasm, many people became increasingly disappointed with the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1990s. On the one hand, this was due to the new social elite that had emerged in the post-communist states, and on the other due to the inequalities that came with it and the rapid social and, above all, cultural changes brought about by globalisation, which led many people to feel that they had lost their culture and identity. In addition, many previously favoured groups of people felt disadvantaged. The populist promises to restore the "old glamour" and thus give back privileges to the formerly advantaged fell on fertile ground: Today, populist parties are in government in several states. Media pluralism, the protection of minorities, the sovereignty of civil society and the independence of the judiciary are being called into question and weakened as a result. Even in established Western democracies, (right-wing) populists have made significant gains. The rise of populism, therefore, poses challenges not only for individual states but for the European Union as a whole.

First, the question of what has become of the transformation and democratisation projects of 1989 and how they have developed will be examined. We will also discuss which new reform movements exist today and whether, for example, there is a direct link between the emergence or strengthening of reform movements and the current wars: Are populists also part of this movement? How should democracies counter populism? What role does the (social) media play in this?

The seminar will use examples to discuss what problems the participants see for their countries of origin and how these could be countered.