Positioning of the Radical Left in (emerging) Illiberal Democracies and Captured States. Insights from Central and Southeast Europe

Anastas Vangeli

The paper examines the question of political positioning and interaction with other societal actors as one of the keys to building a sustainable radical Left political platform. In particular, it discusses political positioning of the radical Left when the liberal democratic order is challenged by an incumbent autocratic nationalist-conservative parties, and/or when the institutions are captured by a narrow ruling elite. The paper looks at the experience of the particular radical Left actors in Macedonia and Poland.A defining characteristics of the radical Left in post-socialist Europe is the sharp break with all previous political incarnations of the Left, and in particular the successors of the communist parties. Emerging from different forms of grassroots activism, often, it has also made a break with the left-liberal civil society discourse and "NGO activism." However, in the context of illiberal democracy and/or captured state, it is often these actors that take on a leading role in political mobilization, and initiate the formation of larger pro-democratic coalitions and alliances. The paper theorizes such (hypothetical) developments as the greatest predicament for the radical Left in post-socialist countries today, and by looking at the Macedonian and the Polish cases, it examines different perspectives that help in solving it.

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