Total Pageviews

Monday, 25 January 2021

Democracy in South East Europe: Backsliding or new normal?

On 20 January, SEESOX hosted the first in its Hilary Term 2021 Seminar Series on The quality of democracy in South Eastern Europe. The opening webinar, on “Democracy in South East Europe: Backsliding or new normal?” brought together Milada Anna Vachudova (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Damir Kapidzic (University of Sarajevo) and Dimitar Bechev (DPIR, Oxford; Russia Institute, King’s College, London), with Othon Anastasakis in the chair.

Vachudova began by identifying the varieties of populism. While all populists ground their appeals in the opposition between “people” and “elites”, she saw populism on the economic left as involving an inclusionary conception of the people, while that on the cultural right was an exclusionary “ethnopopulism”. In the latter case, while the “people” shared some form of common identity (ethnic, cultural, national, religious, or racial), their “enemies” were both domestic and transnational elites. Ethnopopulism legitimizes political power by using intense majoritarianism in defence of the “will of the people”. It differs from ethnic nationalism in its flexibility in identifying any enemies that could help it to gain and consolidate popular support. It exploits “bottom up” discontent at changes in social and economic lived experience, reinforcing this sentiment through the “top-down” creation of “enemies”, and control of the information environment, to polarise society.