European democracies in turmoil?

In the run-up to the European elections in May 2019 and the recent departure of Budapest-based Central European University (CEU), important present-day global thinker and CEO president Michael Ignatieff will take stock of the current state of European democracies.

This month CEU decided to move its offices across the former Iron Curtain to Vienna. After a long-running crackdown of the authorities in Hungary against the university, CEU’s position became untenable. The university is kicked out of Hungary. Together with Michael Ignatieff, CEU President, internationally renowned philosopher and former-politician, we will delve into challenges European democracies face. What does this move of CEU say about democracy in Europe and the future of former Iron Curtain countries?

How does the CEU’s lost battle relate to the current state of affairs in Europe? With the European elections on its way we speak with CEU President Ignatieff about the rise of illiberal democracies in Europe and why the future of Europe is hanging in the balance.

Tinneke Beeckman, Belgian philosopher and author, will give an introduction to Ignatieff’s talk . In her book Macht en Onmacht (Power and Powerlessness) Beeckman discusses themes as democracy, truth and victimization. She writes about a despair in society and the lack of critical thinking in recent years.

 

CEU - battle for academic freedom

After 25 years of operation in Budapest, Ignatieff announced in December 2018 CEU’s forced move to Vienna. The university, founded in 1991 by US-Hungarian philanthropist George Soros to encourage a free and open society, has been facing criticism since the first government of Viktor Orbán in 1998-2002. After a long fight with Orbán’s authorities the CEU decided to leave the country. It’s the first time ever, a university is forced out of a EU member state. Ignatieff called it ‘a dark day for freedom’.