Ivan Krastev (1965, Lukovit/Bulgaria) is chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna (IWM). From May to December 2019 he has been awarded a Mercator Senior Fellowship. Beyond that, is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the global advisory board of Open Society Foundations, New York, and a member of the advisory council of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the European Cultural Foundation (ECF). He is also associate editor of Europe’s World and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy and Transit – Europäische Revue. From 2004 to 2006 Ivan Krastev has been the executive director of the International Commission on the Balkans chaired by the former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato. He was the editor-in-chief of the Bulgarian Edition of Foreign Policy and was a member of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London (2005-2011). He has held fellowships at St. Antony’s College (Oxford); the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars (Washington, D.C.); the Collegium Budapest; the Wissenschaftskolleg (Berlin); the Institute of Federalism at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland); and the Remarque Institute at New York University.
The COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken to protect citizens have intensified the growing trend of “my country first,” multilateralism second. While border closures and restrictive security measures have quickly become the priority over joint solutions and coordinated action, governments enjoy increased trust from citizens. In democracies with vulnerable institutions or in those that displayed illiberal tendencies prior to the crisis, such power intensification can be an easy accelerator on the path towards further estrangement from the very founding principles of liberal democracy – notably the rule of law and equal protection of rights and freedoms. At the same time, the trend of de-liberalisation should be recognised as voters keep repeatedly choosing the conservative, nationalist, or populist leaders. Is this trend a natural expression of a need for change or a threat to democracy as we know it? How should international institutions react to such developments in their member states? Will this have any effect on transatlantic cooperation? What impact will social media have on democracy?