Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski
Western Balkans: Regional Overview (Florian Bieber)
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Western Balkans: Regional Overview
The countries of the Western Balkans, in particular the five countries under discussion in this volume, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia, have experienced a challenging democratization process since the introduction of multi-party elections in 1990s. The dominant feature has been the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars, which stymied democracy and fostered ethnonationalist authoritarianism. The legacies of the wars remain potent today and also resulted in a delay in EU integration in comparison to the countries’ eastern and northern neighbours. This has resulted in the Western Balkans becoming a group of countries characterized by the absence of EU membership, unlike Central Europe, but with a realistic and tangible promise of membership, unlike the countries of the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.
Since the introduction of multi-party democracy in the early 1990s, most of the Western Balkans have experienced a variety of hybrid regimes. While no country in the region has been governed by an outright authoritarian regime, none has managed to consolidate democracy. While there is no single all-encompassing trend for all countries under consideration here, there are a number of trends. The 1990s were marked by strong authoritarian patterns, reinforced by the wars, in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The first decade of the 2000s began with a gradual democratization that saw a regular alternation of power, ruling parties that endorsed political and economic reform, as well as EU integration. By the...
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