The Politics of the Far-Right in Central and South-East Europe

What must the European Union learn from authoritarian threats to democracy? Can cross-national dialogue curtail the rise of far-right politics in the region?

Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe has for much of the last decade been regarded as a 'hotspot' for authoritarian threats to democracy and the rule of law. But the trends present in these states are far from unique. They reflect global issues and challenges. In recent years, many countries in the region have seen a new wave of civic and democratic protest. In several cases, mobilisations widely reported as the "biggest since 1989" have taken place.

These events and experiences therefore provide a lens through which to view the global, interconnected contest between democratic and authoritarian practices. What must the European Union learn from these cases? How can democratic systems of government be strengthened? What common features and differences do we find across these examples? Drawing together a panel of experts the event will seek to address these questions and create a cross-national dialogue on how the democratic, anti-corruption and human rights agenda can be advanced across the region and beyond.



This event was held on Friday 25 June 2021.

Meet the speakers

Luke Cooper is a consultant and associate researcher at LSE IDEAS. He is the author of the new report, Authoritarian Protectionism in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (LSE IDEAS, 2021) and Authoritarian Contagion; The Global Threat to Democracy (Bristol University Press, 2021). His podcast documentary series, Between Dream and Tragedy; Europe's story after 1989, will be released shortly by the Europe's Futures programme at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna.

Bilyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder is one of the founders of the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives foundation (BILI) and its Director. Bilyana  holds a M.A. in Law from Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridsky" and is a fellow of the European Foundation Centre and an alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program of the US Department of State. Before founding BILI she worked as a Senior Staff Attorney at the American Bar Association Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (ABA CEELI currently ROLI). She is also a mediator and a trainer in mediation. Bilyana has a substantial experience in the field of Rule of Law, anti-corruption and policy reforms. Most recently she has participated in the podcast series of the CEELI Institute in Prague “Safeguarding the Rule of Law” and  their spotlight series “Judiciaries in peril in Central Eastern Europe”

Rafal Pankowski is a Professor at the Institute of Sociology of Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. Pankowski received his MA in Political Science from the University of Warsaw. He also studied at the University of Oxford as an undergraduate. Prof. Pankowski received his PhD and Habilitation in Sociology of Culture from the University of Warsaw, Institute of Applied Social Sciences. He has published widely on racism, nationalism, populism, xenophobia and other issues including the books Neo-Fascism in Western Europe: A Study in Ideology (Polish Academy of Sciences, 1998), Racism and Popular Culture (Trio, 2006), and The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots (Routledge, 2010).

Louisa Slavkova is director of the Sofia Platform Foundation. She is advisory board member of the European Network for Civic Education (NECE). In 2021 she co-founded the pan-European platform for civic education - THE CIVICS Innovation Hub. Since 2019 she is co-head of the Capacity Building Program at Civic Europe, a program for locally rooted civic actors in so called civic deserts in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Prior to that Louisa has been a Ronald Lauder Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, NYC, programs manager at ECFR and adviser to Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov. She is author and editor of several books and publications on foreign policy, democracy development and civic education, as well as co-author of а text book on civic education in Bulgaria.

Meet the chair

Jonathan White is the Deputy Head of the European Institute and Professor of Politics at LSE.