Inequality and political stability in Eastern Europe

Wednesday, 7 October 2020, 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm

Wealth and income inequality differs across East European countries. How can we explain these differences, and how is economic inequality linked to political stability in the region? Are illiberal developments in Central Eastern European democracies like Poland or Hungary at least partly a consequence of persisting or rising inequalities? Why do comparatively high levels of inequality, with a relatively small fraction of the population controlling most of the assets, hardly challenge relatively stable autocracies further to the East like Russia? And how do recent events in Belarus, where income inequality is lower than in Russia or Ukraine, fit the picture?

The virtual roundtable will focus on discussing the scope and causes of economic inequality in Eastern Europe, ask for the conditions under which it fuels political instability and for the relevance of this question for policymakers.

Inputs by Christopher Hartwell (Bournemouth University), Elisabeth Schimpfoessl (Aston University), Benedikt Zanker (Federal Foreign Office)

Chair: Julia Langbein (Centre for East European and International Studies)