09:30 - 18:00
Budapest, Hungary
Social Europe

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After the global economic crisis in the autumn of 2008, Europe’s economy experienced almost eight years of uninterrupted growth. Hungary was no exception to this. Nevertheless, the general experience of broad masses and vulnerable social groups is that their working and living conditions have improved little or not at all. Hungary is experiencing a deep economic and social crisis, and it is the lower segments of society that are most affected.

In recent years, left-wing parties have been successful in national elections in many countries. Still, the societal – especially social – discontent with right-wing neoliberal economic policies that prevailed in the 2010s has led to the strengthening of radical right-wing movements. To varying degrees, the parties of the latter are questioning the general post-WWII consensus on norms and values of EU integration. They are defining themselves in opposition to the left-wing, social democratic values. The Hungarian ruling party is the flagship of the latter political project, with its culturally deep conservative and socially reinforcing policies of social inequality and its exclusion of the disadvantaged from society. The political thinking of the European populist right, thus, necessitates and justifies a rethinking of the social democratic project and (in Hungary) of left-wing supply-side politics.

The conference aimed to:
– Serve as an evaluative review of the local and “social Europe” vision of EU social democratic parties – its relevance to current economic, social and political trends and changing voter preferences – with an overview of the potential for adapting innovative new left practices;
– Apply all of this knowledge and (public) policy approaches, particularly regarding the tasks and challenges of left-wing social and economic policy in the context of the autocratic Orbán regime.

Therefore, it explored the causes of the widespread social discontent in Europe today, how the electoral preferences of social groups at the centre of this discontent have changed, and why some sections of society have turned to the extreme and radical right.

Among the speakers:

  • László Andor, FEPS Secretary General
  • Zoltán Pogátsa, Political Economist and lecturer at the University of West Hungary
  • Eszter Kováts, Political Scientist and Researcher at the CEU Democracy Institute
  • Klára Dobrev, MEP S&D Group and Shadow Prime Minister in Hungary
  • Gergely Arató, Member of the Hungarian Parliament
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