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Liberal conservatism is under threat in Europe. Several former communist countries, such as Poland and Hungary, have elected right-wing governments, which academics have deemed ‘illiberal’, and at odds with liberal conservatism. The characterisation of ‘illiberal’ is usually associated with practices such as restricting immigration and violating the principles of judicial independence.

However, it is essential to remember that the economics of these countries are not friendly to the free-market. ‘Orbanomics’ in Hungary, for instance, advocates for the establishment of political control over the economy by emphasising re-nationalisation. Other European leaders on the right, such as the leader of the main opposition party in France, Marine LePen, have supported nationalist economic policies such as restrictions to free-trade and the nationalisation of banks.

While the state of economic liberalism might be dire on the European Right, a beacon of hope exists in Greece.

In July 2019, the Greek people elected a centre-right government after four and a half years of rule by a left leaning government. The new Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has pledged to follow a free-market and pro-business approach. This includes lowering corporate income tax from 28% to 20% by 2020, lowering individual income taxes, and privatising the primary greek oil company Hellenic Petroleum S.A. among others.

During the campaign trail, Mitsotakis pledged to cut the Unified Property Tax, referred to as ENFIA in Greece, by 2020. In the first month in office, the new government managed to offer a 10-30% decrease in the tax, depending on the value of each popery, with lower-income households enjoying a more significant cut.

Another campaign promise that the new government seems to be moving forward with is the Hellinikon Project. This project plans to revitalise the abandoned greek Hellinikon Airport (which has been out of service since 2001), and the use of its lands to develop a multi-purpose hub. Investors are aiming to create a new “Athenian Riviera”, which will include residential communities, luxury hotels,a casino, shopping centers, museums, cultural venues as well as family venues. This eight-billion euro investment is expected to offer thousands of new jobs while also bringing in revenue for the government.

Almost twenty years after the last flight took off from Hellinikon airport, this land has not been taken advantage of. Development projects had been proposed, yet were stalled. According to the Greek Reporter, “a massive and unprecedented mountain of bureaucratic obstacles arose in the last few years, placing one problem atop the other, and preventing any investment [at Hellinikon] from actually taking place.” Bureaucracy is indeed an issue in Greece, and Mr. Mitsotakis’s party, while still in opposition, blamed the previous leftist Syriza government for not moving forward with the project on the grounds of not wanting foreign businesses involved.

Indeed, in 2015, Syriza MP Nantia Valavani called for the abandoned airport facilities to be renovated into a waste management facility, a statement which founded the deputy-minister for the Environment, at the time, in accord. Two years later, several Syriza MPs, including Mrs. Valavani, further objected to the project by stating that the old airport is of “archeological significance” and that its abandoned buildings should be “listed as protection for historical monuments.”

Even though the free market and liberal conservatism may be under threat in Europe, it is essential to remember that there is still hope. In the post-Brexit United Kingdom, it would be necessary for Conservatives here in the United Kingdom to shy away from the anti-free market tendencies we see in many places in central Europe.

Rather, the UK should focus on fostering private investment and large-scale and sustainable development projects that will add many jobs to the economy as the Greek case shows.

Anastasia Kourtis is currently undertaking a week’s work experience at Bright Blue. Views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Bright Blue.