Publication details

Moving towards EU membership and away from liberal democracy



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Southeast European and Black Sea Studies
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords Western Balkans; illiberal politics; stabilitocracy; EU membership; captured states
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Description The article concludes the Special Issue, Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe, on the retreat of liberal democracy in the region. It focuses on the central themes that link all the papers together: free and fair elections, media freedom, judicial independence, privileged access to public resources and the role of civil society. It seeks to disentangle the causes and consequences of illiberal politics in the region and explores the similarities in the illiberal practices and strategies incumbents use with the aim of staying in power indefinitely. The main argument is that democratic backsliding in Southeast Europe is deeply rooted in the unfinished transitions of the 1990s, which gave rise to new political and economic elites and that blending those two into one resulted in the dominance of the executive over the judiciary and legislature. These new elites became entrenched during the wars and conflicts that affected the region. The enabling factors were of societal origin - clientelist practices, corruption, nepotism and mistrust in politics accompanied by external factors - as well as international pull and push factors (from the EU and Russia) along with a domino effect of democratic backsliding in the region.
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