Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The derailment of democracy in the West Balkans

David Madden (Senior Member, St Antony's College, Oxford)

Dimitri Sotiropoulos spoke on 23 February on “The derailment of democracy in the West Balkans”. Dimitri had carried out detailed research in Serbia and FYR Macedonia, but believed that his findings had relevance to other West Balkan countries.

Three means of political domination over states and societies led to a back pedalling away from representative democracy: clientilism, corruption and populism. Clientilism/patronage at the top meant that policy measures were suited to the interests of favoured businessmen. At lower levels were individual appointments of supporters to favoured positions, and many cases of preferential/discriminatory treatment. Corruption was a two-way process between government elites and business interests. Populism was a matter of polarising discourse, nationalism (ethno-populism) and authoritarian tendencies.

This back-pedalling was the consequence of: the disproportionate strength of the executive, and especially the peak of the executive; the weakness of civil society; and the lack of true free market competition. And the consequences (not the causes) were organised crime, lack of rule of law, state incapacity and limited political pluralism. The systems were sliding towards semi-authoritarianism, with elections which were free but not fair, and some attraction towards the Russian (or Hungarian) model. The EU was perceived (wrongly) as being more interested in stability than democracy. But in both countries there were still enclaves of democratic life, which prevented a further slide into more authoritarian government.

The resulting Q&A session broadly confirmed this analysis. Clientilism and corruption were not unknown elsewhere in the region. There was most debate about populism. How did populism in Serbia and Macedonia differ from populism elsewhere in Europe and indeed more widely? Dimitri pointed out that generally it was not used as part of an attempt to cripple democracy.

1 comment:

  1. With our specialist knowledge of different industries and highly experienced professionals, we'll work with you to help create better finance options like Personal,
    Student Loan for you .

    Marketing Md,20201.Baltimore Maryland

    WA/HT : 1 443 345 9339


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.