Central and Eastern Europe

Yearbook

    Towards the League of the Balkan Left
  • The Balkan Peninsula has played a special role in Europe’s political imagination. For the greater part of contemporary history this region figured as a kind of barbaric wasteland. Barbaric in the original sense of the word, that is, of people speaking incomprehensible languages. Beyond this...
    Non-Voting and Support for Left Parties in Poland
  • Introduction For the first time since 1918, the Polish left has no representation in parliament. The country is now governed by a conservative nationalist party, which has managed to gain the support of sections of society that are amongst the most excluded and dissatisfied by the reality of...
    Transformation of the Czech Republic: New Challenges and Problems
  • The transformation process in the Czech Republic is a complex combination of economic and political dynamics. It represents the same logic that has underlain similar post-1989 processes in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We will first briefly summarise the parameters and...
    Elections in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland
  • Taken together, the three Baltic republics Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania occupy an area about half the size of Germany. Poland, by contrast, is one of the largest EU member countries. In other respects too, Poland is very different from the three Baltic states. Unlike Lithuania, Latvia and...
    East of the West – The Visegrad Four
  • The Karlovy Vary Film Festival always presents a series called ‘East of the West’. The survey that follows will likewise look at the area east of the West, though in the slightly narrower sense of that part of Central Europe otherwise known as the Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Slovakia,...
    Some Notes on the Socialist Alternative in Post-Yugoslav Space
  • What if nobody attacks you? Stane Dolanc (1925-1999) was one of the most important Slovenian politicians in former Yugoslavia and among a few of the close trusted friends of President Josip Broz Tito. During his political career he held various high posts and argued for a strong, authoritarian...
    Croatia After EU Accession
  • From the perspective of economic policy initiatives, one of most notable developments since Croatia’s entry into the EU on 1 July 2013 is an intensified drive towards completing the privatisation process of the remaining publicly owned assets.
    Austerity Policy in Hungary
  • Recently Hungary appears much more often in the western media than ever before, usually, in critical articles that mention the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and refer to the activity of the government and laws adopted by the parliament. The reason for this is the drastic change in Hungary’s policy and...
    Reforms in the Czech Republic – Towards Social Darwinism
  • The current situation in the Czech Republic is quite tense. Once again, twenty years after the so-called Velvet Revolution, citizens are asked to “tighten their belts” – however, this time not with the perspective that better times are coming, but that they are definitively behind them. The current...
    The Hungarian Disaster
  • I hate writing this article. Since I oppose the alarming authoritarian developments in my country and am pleading for the restoration of civil liberties, I might appear to be what I definitely am not: someone who thinks that the 21st-century European variant of liberal democracy is a political order...
    Losing the “Left” in Hungary?
  • The European elections demonstrated and further contributed to a deep disillusionment on the left in Hungary. The equilibrium between the two main parties in Hungary was shaken for the first time. The Socialists lost dramatically, their coalition-partner Free Democrats did not gain any seats. The...
    A Journey to the Centre of the Transition
  • The event On April 23, 2009, a group of unemployed textile workers in Novi Pazar, southern Serbia, began a hunger strike. Their main demand – in the name of all 1,532 members of the Association of Textile Workers of Novi Pazar, Sjenica, and Tutin – was the payment of outstanding...
    A Critical Report on the Crisis in Romania
  • Introduction: crisis upon crises It would not be far from the truth to say that in Romania the crisis overlapped an already embedded multi-layered crisis. What is happening today to Romanians in the Romanian state and society – a high degree of poverty, increased discrepancies between the poor and...

Focus

    The Law and Justice Party and Poland’s Turn to the Right
  • It has been over a year since the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) took over complete governmental control in Poland. The presidential election won by Andrzej Duda in May 2015 and the victory of PiS five months later, gave party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński almost total control of the state.
    Landslide victory for FIDESZ in the Parliamentary elections
  • At the parliamentary elections held in Hungary on 6 April 2014 the ruling rigth-wing populist Fidesz party won a landslide victory over its opponents and retained its 2/3 majority. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policy has been justified by a strong nationalist course in order to catch the wind from the sails of Jobbik.
    The Foundation of the “United Left”
  • After some months of intensive discussion on a common program, three parties of the Slovene alternative Left, the “Party for Sustainable Development” (TRS), the “Democratic Labor Party” (DSD) and the “Initiative for Democratic Socialism” (IDS), agreed to join forces and compete together as a coalition in the crucial forthcoming European elections.
    The Hungarian Disaster
  • I hate writing this article. Since I oppose the alarming authoritarian developments in my country and am pleading for the restoration of civil liberties, I might appear to be what I definitely am not: someone who thinks that the 21st-century European variant of liberal democracy is a political order...

Blog

    A Black Autumn for the Czech Left
  • On 20 and 21 October, parliamentary elections were held in the Czech Republic. The populist ANO 2011 movement managed to gain the largest share of the vote mainly by applying smart marketing strategies during the election campaign. The Czech left, however, follows the European downward trend.
    The Transit Migration Situation in Serbia
  • Marta Stojić Mitrović, speaker at this year’s Summer University of EL and transform! europe on the transit migration in Serbia, the Serbian migration politics and the connection to the EU migration regime.
    The Bulgarian Election System Needs a Real Change
  • The proposed amendments in the Bulgarian Election code will not address the real problems. A majority voting electoral system cannot eliminate the problem with distrust in political parties, low turnout, unrepresentative, corrupted and dysfunctional public institutions.
    Polish Left: Mistakes of the Past and Challenges of the Future
  • When we observe the current political scene in Europe, we get the impression that something has gone very wrong. We can see that we – the left – have made many serious mistakes and that our weakness has given new opportunities to right-wing movements and parties.
    Few Points Regarding the Sense of the Revolution
  • On the background of this year’s 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution Jiří Dolejš contemplates the role of revolutionary turmoil and its impact on the human society as well as the requirements under which a real change can be achieved.
    Which Way for the Left?
  • The Polish left-wing think tank Naprzód (Forward) co-organised a day-conference with transform! to discuss the common challenges facing the Polish and European left. How can the left rebuild itself in a situation when politics is increasingly dominated by the conservative and neo-liberal right?
    The Law and Justice Party and Poland’s Turn to the Right
  • It has been over a year since the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) took over complete governmental control in Poland. The presidential election won by Andrzej Duda in May 2015 and the victory of PiS five months later, gave party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński almost total control of the state.
    Green peasant blues in Lithuania
  • Against the backdrop of the current rise in neo-nationalism and the growing xenophobia in the EU and across the Atlantic, one could say that the recent Lithuanian elections, which ended on 23 October, almost seemed to pass with bucolic tranquility. But it is a prelude to yet another phase of a deepening post-democratic crisis affecting national democracies without a politically mobilized precariat in the region.
    Nationalism and Xenophobia
  • The EU is facing enormous challenges. The coming months could be crucial in determining the future of the EU and its broad political orientations. The EU is facing an unprecedented series of challenges in particular on security, climate change, migration and the economy. This combination gives an opportunity for populism to rise and spread its venomous rhetoric.
    Racist state propaganda, migration policy and authoritarianism
  • On 2 October, a national referendum was held on the EU’s refugee quota system and Hungarian migration policy, in a climate dominated by racist state propaganda. While an overwhelming majority of voters rejected the EU's migrant quotas (98%), turnout was too low (43%) to render the poll valid. The government is still calling the referendum a success and wants to amend the Constitution accordingly.
    Some Reflections on the Visegrad Countries
  • In the Visegrad Group there are as many differences as similarities, which contributes to the Group having a certain dynamic. The Group has recently undertaken quite a lot of successful activities or at least initiatives.
    Regional elections in the Czech Republic
  • Elections to regional councils in the Czech Republic were held in 13 regions (except Prague) on 7 and 8 October 2016*. In one third of constituency's were together with Czech senate elections. In general the results show clear loss for both traditional left-wing parties as well as traditional right-wing parties across Czech Republic.
    CEE: Brexit, migration, EU crisis … and what’s next?
  • The current European situation dominated by issues such as Brexit, migration and EU crisis poses a set of questions for which we have to seek answers. Does the current European state of affairs have a specific influence on the CEE region in certain matters? How shall the radical Left act in this sphere and what kind of goals will they target?
    The Radical Left in Slovakia: Possibilities of recovery at the national and European level
  • The radical left is not only witnessing the global strengthening of the free market imperative at the expense of human rights – it is also suffering from it. This is most evident in the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe region in which traditional political subjects professing the ideals of socialism keep failing, owing to a whole range of specific factors that are both external and internal.
    Serbian 2016 Elections: Neoliberal Continuity
  • Even though Serbia’s recent elections featured some new candidacies, these “newcomers” are not new at all. The parliamentary landscape continues to look the same, with the same faces cropping up again and again over the past 25 years. Unfortunately, there is no left-wing option which could use current developments and propose an alternative to the current state of affairs.
    Right-wing radicalism from above
  • As things now stand, the new Croatian government is clearly demonstrating the intention of following most negative European political trends. These trends can be observed, for example, in Poland, Hungary and the Ukraine. Three months ago, a coalition of right wing parties came into power.
    CEE Social Forum
  • Globalization, racism, economic crisis, workers’ rights, imperialism – these are just some of the topics of the discussions during the 2nd CEE Social Forum held in Wroclaw, Poland, between 11 and 13 March. transform! Hungary participated in the forum which was attended by left-wing activists from around the world.
    Darkness at the End of the Tunnel
  • An analysis of the outcome of the 2016 Slovak parliamentary elections. What were the expectations beforehand, what actually happened and what does this mean for the Slovak and European left?
    The Fidesz Recipe
  • Fidesz is not a ground-up movement or the product of a specific political theory or philosophy. Instead, Fidesz is a precision-engineered religion – a power-center controlled by the government and the head of the church.
    Poverty and inequality in the Czech Republic
  • At first sight, according to mostly used indicators, the Czech Republic seems to be a very equal country with low poverty and inequality. However, the real situation is more complex as many citizens find themselves just close behind the poverty threshold.
    Back to the East?
  • The refugee crisis and immigration has opened up old divisions and created new ones between “the West” and “the East” within the European Union. How can this be understood beyond superficial media-ascribed labels?
    Refugee crisis and Hungary
  • Before the current refugee crisis Hungary’s immigration policy focused on the fight against illegal migration, but an explicit overall migration strategy was blatantly lacking.
    Transformation of the Czech Republic
  • The transformation of the Czech Republic, specifically of Czechoslovakia from 1990 to 1992, is a topic that relates not only to economics, but also has legal, social and political aspects. It is subject to many interpretations and also poses a fundamental question: whether the process is complete.
    Hungary’s municipal elections in 2014
  • The ruling right wing Fidesz party won a resounding victory in nationwide municipal elections on Sunday 12th October 2014, cementing prime minister Viktor Orban’s position as Hungary’s most dominant political force since the system change. Fidesz won the mayoralties in all but one of the 10 largest...
    Ukrainian Elections Results
  • Exit-polls and preliminary results showed a decisive victory for Petro Poroshenko at the presidential elections in Ukraine on 25 May. One of the richest man in the country (7th rank according to Ukrainian Forbes list) with liberal economic program is taking 54% according to over 64% counted...
    The Logic of a Revolt
  • Russian bureaucrats have been honestly surprised at the reaction by the official West – they did not expect such anger or unanimous condemnation. European politicians are beside themselves with fury. The mainstream press is relating appalling stories to its readers of Russian aggression against Ukraine. The television shows interviews with Kiev ministers and deputies who tearfully implore Europe to save their country from the enraged bear.
    Founding Congress of the Initiative for Democratic Socialism
  • On 8 March, the “Initiative for Democratic Socialism” (IDS) had its founding congress and officially transformed itself into a political party. In the invitation to the congress we have written that in the last twenty years all political parties in Slovenia have been representatives of one and the same fraction, the fraction of capital. We have emphasized that it is high time Slovenia gets a proper socialist party that openly and consciously represents a socialist alternative to both, the crisis in Slovenia as well as the crisis in European Union.
    Czech Labour Dilemmas in 2014
  • Currently, there are two immediate positive steps taken by the new Czech government: they instantly removed the hospital fees of CZK 100 (about 4 Euros) per person daily, and they continued refusing that Czech Post is privatized, as right-wing former governments have promoted in their agendas.
    A Revolution on the Periphery of Europe
  • On 7 February, government buildings were on fire all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, silent for a long time, finally decided to speak their minds. And when they did, those were not words – it was a roar. It was fire, stones and heavy fighting with the police.
    Albanian Political Forces and the EU Integration Process
  • Following the publication of the latest EU progress report on Albania, an intense debate broke out over the country’s accession prospects. A first approximation of the political discourse expressed by Albanian parties – irrespective of size or ideology – would reveal that the issue ranks high at the political agenda.
    The Crisis is not Solved, but Rather Intensified
  • After a government crisis in summer, early elections have been proclaimed in the Czech Republic. This weekend was the day D. The campaigning was relatively short and the program documents were to the majority not of much interest.
    May Day School 2013
  • The May Day School is a traditional event within the Spring-Summer conference circuit in the Balkans, held each year at the end of April by The Workers and Punks’ University (WPU) - a collective of students, researchers and activists from Ljubljana, Slovenia.
    Bulgarian Election: Fraud and Vote Buying
  • On 12 May in Bulgaria were held early parliamentary elections. They were reached after unprecedented massive protests in the whole country in February and the resignation of the government of the ruling party GERB.
    Findings of “Social Watch” in Hungary
  • The Party of the European Left organized a mapping of the social situation in various countries of member parties. In April it was Hungary – one of the so called post-communist countries. The author, living in Prague, took the opportunity to compare the Hungarian reality with the situation in the Czech Republic.
    The Bulgarian Winter of Protests
  • Over the past two months Bulgaria, the most passive country in the traditionally belligerent Balkans, has been shaken by protests. Since the beginning of February Bulgarians in most big cities have been out in the streets, protesting against the increased electricity and heating bills. After a few nights of clashes between police and protesters, the government of Boyko Borissov and his party GERB resigned.
    14/17N Day in the Czech Republic
  • With a certain distance, it is now possible to evaluate the participation of Czechs in Europe-wide actions against the advancing policy of cuts and the limitation of democracy. Two views are possible.
    Czech Elections: “No” to Austerity and “Yes” to Strengthening the Left
  • On 12–13 October 2012, elections took place in the Czech Republic. The elections were for regional assemblies and one-third of the Senate. Their political impact could have far-reaching results for the whole of society. They signalled a resounding “no” to cost cutting and complete submission to the demands of the world financial sector for a quick restart of neo-liberal capitalism.

Publication

    The Law and Justice Party and Poland’s Turn to the Right
  • It has been over a year since the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) took over complete governmental control in Poland. The presidential election won by Andrzej Duda in May 2015 and the victory of PiS five months later, gave party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński almost total control of the state.