Illiberal Democracy

Friday, 26 June 2015, 7:00pm - 8:30pm, IWM library

Stephen Holmes gave the keynote speech of the conference HUNGARY 2015: Mapping the “System of National Cooperation”, jointly organized by the Central European University (CEU), Pasts, Inc. Center for Historical Studies and the IWM.

In FM4 Reality Check he gave his views on how Hungary’s Prime Minister, Victor Orban, has succeeded in implementing his “illiberal democracy”.


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Putting aside for the moment questions of electoral opportunism, rhetorical posturing, and redistributive cronyism, the lecture will provide a historical and comparative context for evaluating Orban’s attempt to frame his way of ruling Hungary as “illiberal democracy.”  How should we understand the relation between Orban’s audaciously frontal assault on the liberal state and the virulent anti-liberalism of the 1930s?  To what extent is Orban’s illiberalism unique to Hungary and to what extent is it a reflection of wider, even global, trends today?  The perennial and widespread charge that liberalism is a hypocritical philosophy that masks the decision of political elites to favor the strong over the weak behind a façade of abstract rights, anonymous procedures, and neutral rules needs to be faced head-on.  Does liberalism, understood as the governing philosophy of Western democracies, really ignore the need for political leadership, the importance of national identity, and the value of public patrimony?  Is Orban right to claim that liberalism provides no resources for dealing with the challenge of mass immigration?  Is liberalism really a threat to the sovereignty of nation-states struggling to manage the uncertainties produced by globalization and economic crisis?

StephenStephen_Holmes_221_300 Holmes is Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law  and Faculty CO-director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University.
The main foci of his current research are: Defense Against Transnational Terrorism Within the Bounds of Liberal Constitutionalism, Emergency Powers, The Disappointments of Democracy and Economic Liberalization After Communism and The History of European Liberalism.

 The conference itself is not open to the public.

Generously supported by Grüne Bildungswerkstatt, Green European Foundation and The Greens/EFA.


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