30 years after: What has the 1989 democratic transition brought to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe?

Session supported by “Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action”, a partnership of ERSTE Foundation and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM)

Extended Parallel Session C.3 – 14:45 – 17:30, Thursday 2 May, Sala Lounge, Villa Salviati, EUI

Abstract: In 1989, peaceful transitions started in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, with the round-table discussions in Poland and Hungary, and with the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in what was then known as Czechoslovakia. Soon after they set up the Visegrád Group with a view to better represent their interests at the EU level. More recently, however, parties with populist tendencies have come into power in some of the four countries creating concerns about the rise of illiberalism. This session will consider the developments in the region and their root causes.

Part 1 – 14.45 – 16.00: The historical circumstances of the democratic transition from an outside perspective. What is the current political role of the Visegrád Group in particular, and Central Europe in general? What do they have in common and what divides Central European countries?

Moderator: Jiří Přibáň, Professor of Law, University of Cardiff


Béla Greskovits, Professor, Central European University and RSCAS, EUI

Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, European Commission

Michal Kopeček, Director, Imre Kertesz Kolleg Jena

Philipp Ther, Professor of Central European History, University of Vienna

Part 2 – 16.15 – 17.30: The impact of the democratic transition in East Central Europe from an insider perspective. What happened, and why, to the once liberal democracies? Was the democratic transition premature? What are the similarities and the differences in the four countries? What are the perspectives for their future?

Moderator: Gábor Halmai, Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law, EUI


Dorothee Bohle, Professor of Political Science, EUI

Bálint Magyar, Sociologist and Senior Core Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University

Magdaléna Vášáryová, Former Ambassador of Slovakia, and Public Intellectual