Posted on25 October, 2016byCIPE Staff|Comments Off on Democracy that Delivers Podcast #39: András Lőke on the State of Democracy in Hungary
Podcast guest Andras Loke
This week on the Democracy that Delivers podcast, President of Transparency International Hungary, András Lőke, discusses the state of democracy in Hungary and the hard work it takes to maintain that system over time. He also discusses the cultural differences between countries in Central Europe and how culture can influence democratic development. Lőke is also founder and editor-in-chief of www.Ittlakunk.hu, a group of websites covering 23 Budapest neighborhoods that receives 800,000 unique visitors a month. He speaks about the government’s influence on the media. Lőke also talks about how corruption undermines democracy and the “economy within the economy” that institutionalizes corruption in Hungary.
Lőke recently spoke at the conference The Illiberal Turn?: Reasserting Democratic Values in Central and Eastern Europe. The conference was co-hosted by CIPE with the Atlantic Council, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. You can conference presentations and panel discussions on the Atlantic Council website.
Indeed, Egypt is going through a very difficult period. The current economic situation is intrinsically linked to the accumulated weight of poorly addressed economic challenges over the past forty years. Economic problems were either ignored, or in other instances, their root causes were not addressed in a profound and decisive manner. On the other hand, undoubtedly, Egypt has all the capabilities to become one of the largest world economies. This potential has been noted in reports of financial institutions such as the 2010 Citibank report.
The current difficulty stems from fact that there is no alternative to undertaking a comprehensive economic reform program. However, in the short run all Egyptians- the wealthy, the poor, and the middle class, will have to bear the brunt of these reforms. That said, with sound management of reform program, Egyptians will enjoy the fruits of reform in the medium to long run.
There can be no doubt that enacting economic reforms is crucial for Egypt’s progress. Thus, “No,” is my final unequivocal answer to the most critical question of whether Egypt has other alternatives to entering into the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.
The Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), an innovative think tank dedicated to strengthening the Syrian economy and promoting democratic and sustainable development is faced with an extraordinary challenge ahead. With nearly 5 million Syrian refugees and 6.6 million internally displaced persons, SEF must operate in an increasingly uncertain and volatile landscape, amidst a war that has ravaged the country and impaired both political and economic institutions. To rebuild Syrian society and empower a new generation that has suffered the consequences of war, SEF (based out of Gazientep, Turkey) has embarked on a campaign to create a new educational model focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and civic engagement. This new model involves training and equipping youth with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens and to re-imagine what it means to be a Syrian citizen. SEF has succeeded in becoming a leading voice for the Syrian private sector, even though managing a think tank amidst widespread conflict is a difficult task.
The much-analyzed nuclear deal with Iran to lift international sanctions is, if approved, expected to have a substantial impact on the Iranian economy by enabling the country to increase its oil and gas exports and by creating new possibilities for foreign direct investment (FDI). Many observers hope that the deal will allow for increased interaction with multinational companies and could help build more constructive relations between Iran and the international community.
However, one aspect of the story has not been widely covered: how the nuclear deal could have a massive economic and social impact on the region at large, including Central Asia and South Caucasus. One country which could make considerable gains from the nuclear deal is Armenia, which shares a border with Iran.
The Electric Yerevan protests began on June 19, when protesters gathered on the street to express their discontent with the local power company, the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) and its planned 14 percent increase in electricity tariffs from August, the third price raise within the past two years, which would result in a more than 60 percent overall increase in electricity tariffs.
Public discontent was further aggravated by a report revealing evidence of gross corruption and mismanagement at the utility. The report exposed the extravagant lifestyle of the ENA management and revealed that the ENA has accumulated debt by overpaying suppliers and contractors.
On June 23, four days after the start of the protests, roughly 2,000 protesters gathered on Baghramyan Avenue to express their grievances with the ENA management. They were blocked by police forces, and in response the protesters sat down and spent the night there. They were forcibly dispersed by police water cannons and around 250 people were detained.
As one of the four core institutes of the NED, CIPE was invited to organize a panel at the conference, and selected the issue of the links among women’s economic empowerment, women’s entrepreneurship, and democracy. CIPE invited five key members of its network of South Asian women’s chambers and associations to share their views as the panelists, with CIPE’s Regional Director for Eurasia and South Asia, Marc Schleifer, moderating.
Their conversation explored the ways in which CIPE’s work at the intersection of economic development and democracy ties into women’s issues in a challenging region. This post will be the first of six reflecting on CIPE’s panel at the conference, and is intended to spur a deeper conversation of these issues. Each entry in this series will build on the stories of the key members of CIPE’s South Asian network, illuminated by the questions that Schleifer posed during the panel to these South Asian leaders, as follows:
In what ways do private enterprise and entrepreneurship help spark economic empowerment for women and lead to improved political participation among women?
What are some motivating factors that encourage women to move beyond growing their businesses to start civil society organizations, in order to give back to other women?
Why is it important to focus on scaling women-owned businesses, and in what ways is access to finance and policy change a part of that scaling process?
How do these women’s business organizations approach the issue of policy advocacy? What kinds of policy challenges do women in business in your countries face? And how are your organizations working to tackle those issues?
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.