On-site IPW Lecture: Josef Hien - Did Christian Democracy kill Europe or did Europe kill Christian Democracy?

When: Thursday, 19 May 2022, 17:00. Where: Hörsaal II, Universitätsstraße 7 (EG), Vienna


Invitation to the IPW Lecture Did Christian Democracy kill Europe or did Europe kill Christian Democracy?

Lecturer: Josef Hien (Mid Sweden University/Institute for Future Studies)
Moderation: Fabio Wolkenstein (IPW)

When: Thursday, 19 May 2022, 17:00
Where: Hörsaal II, Universitätsstraße 7 (EG), Vienna 


Christian Democracy has been singled out by scholars as one of the most important driving forces of the European unification process. The importance of Christian Democratic transnational party networks of the founding fathers De Gasperi, Adenauer, Schumann is well-researched but only few scholars explored the contemporary relationship between Christian Democracy and the European Union. The research that exists points to a new detrimental effect of Christian Democracy on European integration. By protecting autocratic leaders like Victor Orban from sanctions, the European People’s party is accused to help “little dictators” (Juncker) to demolish national democracies and to harm the integration project. How come that the former driving force behind European unification has now turned into a demolisher of the same? This talk addresses the relationship between European expansion and Christian Democratic party ideology. The paper argues that the drive for an ever greater expansion of the EU and the own party family beyond the original Christian Democratic core in Western Europe through inclusion of Southern, Northern and Central Eastern European conservative parties without a distinct Christian Democratic party tradition transformed not only the pan European party platform but fed also back into the original national Christian Democratic party ideologies. In addition, traditional secularization patterns, general value shifts, and the transitions to postindustrial societies are key to understand the ideological watering down of national Christian Democratic parties. This ideological transformation also led to the exhaustion of the Christian Democratic drive for European integration. The talk will empirically map this process through an historical sociological analysis of the contemporary events that fueled this dynamic ideology change of Christian Democracy throughout the past 30 years of the integration process.