Individual Members Crossborder Event:
The Bright Future of Liberalism,
Visegrad, 1 – 2 December 2018, Hotel Visegrad
The current European situation does not look particularly ‘bright’. Europe is at the crossroad between two different alleys, a democratic and unified European Union and a break-away agglomeration of nationalistic egoistic states celebrating the concept termed 'illiberal democracy'. Apparently, the so-called Visegrád group goes in the latter direction, joined recently by Italy and in many aspects by Austria as well. In many European Member States right-wing populism is on the rise. Why does the conference organized by the ALDE Individual Members dares to foresee a bright future for liberalism, which by the way includes re-gaining Visegrád as a symbol for liberal democracies?
Liberals leading the fight for a liberal democracy in a politically, socially, ecologically and democratically unified Europe
The pillars of liberal democracies are a Europe and its Member States based on the rule of law, the free and honest competition of parties and ideas based on fair and free elections, the respect of the rights of the citizens and of the minorities, social fairness, economic freedom, ecological awareness and political participation.
After the fall of communism everybody expected a deepening of the European unification on the base of liberal democracy. As we have learned, liberal democracy, even when seemingly achieved, is by no means guaranteed. It needs a strong defence by those, who adhere to these principles of liberal democracy shared not only among liberals, but among social democrats and conservatives as well. These forces, particularly the social democrats and the conservatives have lost strengths to reactonary forces. This process started in the New Member States where the leading forces created the term ‘illiberal democracy’ gaining public support as the traditional democratic parties betrayed ethic and moral standards when in power.
Liberals are called to fight for the resurrection of liberal democracies in alliance with the Civil Society and honest social-democrats, ecologists and conservatives. And in this alliance Liberals can still hold to liberal principles that go beyond the common shared values mentioned above.
Why can we expect a bright liberal future?
The fight for liberal democracies necessitates a strong alliance with all actors that subscribe to the basic principles. This, however, not mean that those actors do not represent different world views and different understandings of a fair society. Conservatives stick to traditional hierarchical class structures, social-democrats represent a rather collectivist view.
First and outmost, Liberals believe in the responsibility of the individual and to a society based on openness, equal chances, competition, and compassionate societies. Societies have to offer a maximum of personal freedom as long as the individual freedom does not the freedom of the others. Liberals do not insist on dominant cultures, but trust in mutual enrichment in learning cultures – again as long as there is no infringement with the basic values of liberal democracy.
The fight for liberal democracy cannot be won if it is only fought by organisations and parties. It is the task of the individuals - that are the pillar of open societies – to defend the liberal democracy against its enemies.