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The crisis of the Left in post-Communist Europe: reasons and consequences 

Publié le 16 octobre 2023 Mis à jour le 18 octobre 2023


25-26 April 2024

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)


In the aftermath of the democratic transition of communist Europe, communist successor parties have emerged as major actors in the respective political scenes. Scholars of party politics have been interested in assessing their adaptation and survival strategies, as well as their ideological rebranding. Along with EU accession, research has later focused on Europeanization of party systems and political parties, measuring the effects of such a process on communist successors.

Thirty years after the transition, communist successor parties still play a critical role in most of the region and represent one of the main legacies of the old Communist regimes. Formally defined as « leftists », successor parties represent nonetheless an extremely uneven party family: the Czech communists stick to Marxism-Leninism, while their Hungarian and Polish fellows are close to the political center; in Romania and Bulgaria, communist successors are catch-all parties– swinging between national conservatism and social democracy, while in Russia and Moldova they have embraced pragmatism and nationalism; elsewhere, and for instance in Latvia, they are relegated to represent the Russian ethnic minority. Albeit preponderant, communist successor parties are not the exclusive actors on the Left and are instead sided by restored pre-war social democratic parties – like in Czechia, second-generation successor parties – like in Slovakia, or new grassroots movement parties, mainly in former Yugoslavia.

What is even more striking at a first glance is the high variance in the electoral performances of the Left, the main focus of the present call: in some cases, leftists are witnessing a steady and fast decline, such as in the Czech Republic (where no left-wing party is by now represented in Parliament), Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria; in Romania and Slovakia they represent instead the biggest political forces. The aim of this panel is to assess the reasons behind the crisis of the Left in Central and Eastern Europe and in the post-Soviet space. Emphasis on the comparative dimension of the question is encouraged, and in particular on the differences between the successful and the failing cases.

We welcome proposals touching one or more of the following points: 

- Crisis of the Left: reasons and consequences.

- Reasons behind the success in part of the region. 

- Eastern European party cleavages: is there no space for the Left in the fight between liberals and conservatives?

- The emergence of a new, progressive Left: social movements and movement parties.

Please send your abstract at Jean-Michel.De.Waele@ulb.be by 01/02/2024 (00.00 CET). 

Scientific Committee: 

Jean-Michel De Waele - Professor of Political Science, CEVIPOL, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Michel Perottino - Head of the Political Science Department, Charles University

Sergiu Mișcoiu - Professor of Political Science, Thesis Director at University Babes-Bolyai (UBB) and Paris-Est (UPE), Director of the Centre for International Cooperation (UBB) 

Mark Marku - Director of the Communication and Journalism Department, University of Tirana 

Valentina Petrović - Postdoctoral researcher, University of Zurich

Liutauras Gudžinskas - Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, Vilnius University

Ivaylo Dinev - Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)

Gianmarco Bucci - Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa (SNS)