The Rise of Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe

Author: Damir Kapidžić
Year: 2020
Title: The Rise of Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe
Journal: Southeast European and Black Sea Studies
Issue & pages: vol. 20, no. 1, pages 1–18
DOI: 10.1080/14683857.2020.1709701


Democracy is backsliding throughout Southeast Europe but there are no signs of full democratic breakdown. Instead, political parties and their leaders incrementally undermine challenges to governmental authority while keeping electoral contest largely intact. This article introduces a special issue that aims to examine and explain democratic decline by looking at the prevalence of illiberal politics across countries and issues. In order to overcome the limitations of fixed regime classification we adopt a procedural lens and look into governing practices that gradually tilt the electoral playing field. Utilizing the concept of Illiberal politics allows us to examine sets of policies enacted by political parties in government with the aim to remain in power indefinitely. By tracing democratic decline in Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia we observe different patterns of weakness, but also common causes arising from weak institutions and inherited governance practices that preserve executive dominance, patronage, and informality.

Keywords: Illiberal politics, Southeast Europe, competitive authoritarianism, democratic backsliding, political parties


Suggested citation:

Kapidžić, D. 2020. The Rise of Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 20(1), 1–18. DOI:10.1080/14683857.2020.1709701