The political economy of national-neoliberalism
Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Analyzing transformations in Romania & Hungary this article shows that neoliberalism is not over, just changing, leading to national-neoliberalism.
Has a post-neoliberal policy regime emerged from the challenges to neoliberalism that have accompanied the rise of nationalism and populism in some Eastern and Central European countries? Why has the political organization of these challenges to neoliberalism endured in some countries but not in others? By drawing on a mix of primary and secondary sources culled from the institutional, political and economic realities of Hungary and Romania, this paper makes two claims. First, the article suggests that these transformations have amounted to a distinctive variety of neoliberalism that can be dubbed 'national-neoliberalism.' At its core one finds the slightly modified old goals of neoliberal orthodoxy embedded into a protective cocoon of orthodox and unorthodox economic policy instruments and institutions. The second claim of the paper is that the political organization of the national-neoliberal project was resilient in Hungary but not in Romania. The evidence suggests that this variation owes not only to the fact that the 'national' elements of national-neoliberalism had protections against the bond markets. While this factor was indeed critical, the resilience of Hungarian national-neoliberalism seems to have been made possible by the fact that its proponents could manage a broader social bloc and deploy techno-political capabilities that bolstered their political power relative to that of challengers. In contrast, the challengers to orthodox ("globalist") neoliberalism did not possess these characteristics in Romania. As such, the paper rejects the hypothesis of a nationalist-heterodox successor to neoliberalism and takes a first cut at a theory of policy resilience for national-neoliberalism.
Cite as: Cornel Ban, Gabor Scheiring & Mihai Vasile (2021) The political economy of national-neoliberalism, European Politics and Society, Published online: Aug 10, 2021.
Final published version here.
Accepted manuscript (free) here.