Ivan Krastev

Chairman, Center for Liberal Strategies

PATRON EVENT: Imitation and Resentment: Making Sense of the Post-1989 World

About the Topic


In 2004, eight eastern European states joined the European Union, followed a few years later by Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia. The EU had consolidated fragile democracies emerging from the fall of communism in 1989. Yet today Poland and Hungary are mired in legal disputes with the EU for their abuses of the rule of law. Krastev argues that the stark repudiation of liberalism stems from resentment at the post-1989 imperative to become Westernized. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hails his nation as an “illiberal democracy.” Foreign Affairs: "...during the past decade, Orbán has systematically dismantled democratic institutions, undermined the rule of law, eliminated constitutional checks and balances, hobbled independent media, and built a kleptocratic system rewarding cronies while sidelining critics.” He has drawn closer to Russia’s Vladimir Putin who “has made his country great again.” Why did the West, after winning the Cold War, lose its political balance? What is the future of the European Union? What are the implications for America in Europe’s politics of imitation and resentment?

About the Speaker

Political scientist Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria. A widely regarded expert on Balkan and European affairs, he is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a global board member of the Open Society Foundations, and serves on the Board of Trustees of The International Crisis Group. Krastev is an opinion writer for The New York Times and contributes to Foreign Policy. His latest book, with co-author Stephen Holmes, is The Light That Failed (Penguin 2019), exploring perils in the politics of imitation. The Financial Times views Krastev “among the most original thinkers about Europe’s future.”