Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy 2020

Online Event


Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe?

Tuesday 15 September 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm (UK time), 6:00pm to 7:30pm (Ro time)

Populist and illiberal governments now dominate much of Central and Eastern European politics. Can liberal democracy survive?
Several Central and South-Eastern European countries have shifted towards populist and illiberal governments. Democratic backsliding, increasing authoritarianism and political interference in the judiciary are evident even in some European Union member states. Freedom House rank Hungary, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania as only ‘partially free’.

Despite this, there may be cause for optimism. Throughout 2020 citizens across the region from Hungary to Bulgaria have taken to the streets in their thousands to protest and demand democratic political change. Is democracy failing or reviving in Central and Eastern Europe? This event will assess the differing cases across the region and explore both the current state of democracy and what direction the region might take in the future.
The panellists are Radu Comanescu, Slobodan Markovich, and Arkadiusz Nyzio. The event will be chaired by Spyros Economides.


The End of the End of History

Wednesday 16 September 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm (UK time), 6:00pm to 7:30pm (Ro time)

Has liberalism failed to deliver on its promises? Join Professor Burleigh and Professor Cox as they discuss ‘the end of the end of history’.
In 1989 the American analyst Francis Fukuyama declared in a famous article that the world was witnessing a dramatic and apparently irreversible shift away from collectivism towards a reinvigorated liberalism which, he insisted, had finally triumphed over all its ideological rivals. Thirty years later the idea that liberalism would sweep all before it appears to lie in tatters. Indeed, authoritarian powers like China and Russia openly oppose it, while in many post-communist states in Central Europe, elections are won by populist leaders who have made as their target western liberal values.
Meanwhile, in the West itself, liberalism has not only failed to deliver on its early economic promise, but according to the Chicago- based IR scholar – John Mearsheimer – the primary reason why the international order is now in such a state of disrepair is precisely because of the pursuit of liberal goals by western foreign policy elites. 

But how has all this come to pass? Is the liberal order in terminal decline? And is there anything that can be done about it? Professor Michael Burleigh was the Engelsberg Chair for 2019/20 at LSE IDEAS. Michael is a historian who focuses primarily on Nazi Germany. He is the author of The Third Reich: a new history, which won the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. His most recent book is The Best of Times, the Worst of Times. He has also won a British Film Institute Award for Archival Achievement and a New York Film and Television Festival Award Bronze Medal.
Professor Michael Cox is a Founding Director of LSE IDEAS and an Emeritus Professor of International Relations at LSE.


Contemporary Challenges to Democracy

Friday 18 September 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm (UK time), 6:00pm to 7:30pm (Ro time)

This panel discussion will explore how populist media and historical narratives are creating a crisis of self-belief in Western liberal democracies.
Liberal democracies and institutions are under pressures not seen in the West since the 1930s. Alongside direct challenges to the political order by radical populist politicians, liberalism’s soft power is being weakened by virulent populist media, politicised and skewed historical narratives and attacks on liberal western values.


In this far-reaching discussion, three experts will examine these powerful challenges to democracy and the liberal order. Topics will include the role of populist journalism and social media, how populist historical narratives distort our relationship with the past and our subsequent understanding of reality, and the West’s loss of self-belief in its liberal values.
The panel is Christopher Coker, John Lloyd, and Janne Matlary. It will be chaired by Richard Ralph, former UK Ambassador to Romania.



Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy: speakers confirmed

15th-18th September 2020

An online series of discussions on challenges to democracy

We are delighted to announce our world-leading line-up of experts who are participating in our annual Ratiu Dialogues on Democracy event, taking place online this year, over three days of public events. The series will begin on Tuesday 15th September with an analysis of the political crises in Central and Eastern Europe, featuring Professor Slobodan Markovich (University of Belgrade), Dr. Radu Albu-Comanescu (Babes-Bolyai University), Dr. Arkadieusz Nyzio (Jagiellonian University) and Dr. Spyros Economides (London School of Economics and Political Science).

On Wednesday 16th September we will be joined by Professor Michael Burleigh, former Engelsberg Chair at LSE IDEAS, who will deliver an in-depth and far-reaching exploration of the historical perspective to the challenges modern democracies are facing. 

Professor Burleigh will be in conversation with Professor Michael Cox, Director of LSE IDEAS.
Our final conversation on Friday 18th September will examine current challenges to democracy around the globe with renowned journalist and founder of the Oxford Reuters Institute for Journalism, John Lloyd, LSE IDEAS Director Professor Christopher Coker and Professor Janne Haaland Matlary, former Norwegian Defence Minister and Professor of International Politics at the University of Oslo.

We will also announce the winner of the 2020 Ion Ratiu Investigative Journalism Award at this finale event of the programme.

More details on registration and event particulars will be shared soon.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to be added to the Ratiu Forum mailing list, please contact office@ratiuforum.com.


Prof. Slobodan Markovich, University of Belgrade
Dr. Radu Albu-Comănescu, Babeș-Bolyai University
Dr. Arkadiusz Nyzio, Jagiellonian University
Dr. Spyros Economides, London School of Economics and Political Science
Prof. Michael Burleigh, former Engelsberg Chair at LSE IDEAS
Prof. Michael Cox, Director of LSE IDEAS
John Lloyd, Journalist and founder of the Oxford Reuters Institute for Journalism
Prof. Christopher Coker, LSE IDEAS Director
Prof. Janne Haaland Matlary, Professor of International Politics at the University of Oslo