Budapest: Mayor Gergely Karácsony calls on policy makers and activists to counter the rising wave of illiberalism and nativist populism

Over 200 participants, including policymakers, experts and activists will meet to debate and discuss how to rebuild and strengthen democracy in the age of populism, at the inaugural Budapest Forum taking place on September 16-17, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary.

The Forum will also discuss ideas on tackling inequalities during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, mainstreaming a bold green policy agenda and where the EU is heading.

Ministers, academics and political experts including Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg, LaTosha Brown, Co-founder, Black Lives Matter Fund, Katalin Cseh, MEP, Momentum, Vice President, Renew Europe and Anne Applebaum, Senior Fellow, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will participate in the conference.

Inviting policy experts and law makers to the Forum, Budapest Mayor and keynote speaker Gergely Karácsony, said, “Our Budapest Forum conference was born out of a deep concern over how we protect and improve democracy and counter the rising wave of illiberalism and nativist populism. I firmly believe that local governments have a key role to play in advancing democratic engagement and creating a healthy, inclusive, fact-based public discussion.

“On the margins of the conference, Budapest will also host the Pact of Free Cities summit to build a global network of progressive mayors and cities in defense of democracy and pluralism. With democracy being our key theme, the Budapest Forum will also bring other, closely related and crucial topics, among them climate action and technological change, into the discussion.

“Working closely together with our co-organizer partners, Political Capital Institute and the CEU Democracy Institute, we wanted to provide a joint platform for elected officials, high-profile experts, academics, and civil society alike to tackle the most pressing policy challenges of our time. We want to draw on existing synergies and provide policy recommendations that will drive us toward a better future. I can’t wait to hear the insights of so many acclaimed speakers, and I am especially delighted that our great city Budapest will host such a timely and exciting gathering.”

Political Capital director Peter Kreko added, “Budapest Forum will be a value-oriented but not dogmatic, and at the same time not ideologically one-sided conference. There will be panels populated with participants representing very different ideas and opinions who will sit together at one table. Therefore, we, the organizers, look forward to challenging discussions as well. Also, because the conference is about how to relaunch democracies and strengthen weakened democracies, the first and most crucial element is the dialogue. Unfortunately, the space for this dialogue is shrinking more and more in Hungary, and the same is happening in Budapest. There are no more public 'policy debates' in the country, and the Budapest Forum will be unique in this as well - on the national, urban, and international levels.”

By hosting the Forum in Budapest, the organisers - Budapest City Hall, Political Capital Institute and CEU Democracy Institute - aim to put the city squarely back on the region’s progressive intellectual map. This year’s edition of the Budapest Forum focuses on cities, local initiatives, and building sustainable democracies. The conference will offer participants, decision-makers and the broader public new perspectives on building sustainable democracies

The Forum will discuss the importance of citizen engagement and the role that mayors can play in strengthening democracy. It will have a strong representation from mayors and deputy mayors of Amsterdam, Bratislava, Düsseldorf, Warsaw, Prague, Ankara, Košice, Mannheim, Milan, Florence, Barcelona, Podgorica, Strasbourg, Gdańsk, Paris, London, Vienna, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Taipei, Fort Worth, and Los Angeles either in person or virtually.

During the Forum, mayors will also meet to formally expand the ‘Pact of Free Cities’, founded by the Visegrad Four capitals, an organization to protect and promote mayors committed to democracy.

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