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Illiberal and authoritarian tendencies in Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe


Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski

Even though the democratic decline has been deemed a global phenomenon, the question of how it manifests itself in the postcommunist world and how it varies across different regions with divergent levels of democratic consolidation has not been sufficiently addressed yet. This book tries to fill the gap and examines the causes and nature of the deteriorating quality of democracy in Central Europe as well as the reversal or stagnation of democratization processes in Southeastern and Eastern Europe. The political elite plays a key role in initiating legislative changes that may lead to democratic backsliding. Its constant commitment to the rule of law and to the practice of selfrestraint in securing the independence of judiciary and the rights of political opposition appears hence indispensable for sustainable liberal democracy.
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10. Macedonia: Illiberal Democracy or Outright Authoritarianism? (Ljupcho Petkovski / Dimitar Nikolovski)


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Ljupcho Petkovski and Dimitar Nikolovski

10.  Macedonia: Illiberal Democracy or Outright Authoritarianism?

The chapter explains the state of democracy in Macedonia under the VMRO-DPMNE rule in the period 2006–2017. The authors take an eclectic approach in defining the regime, using rational choice theory to explain illiberalism through clientelism and populism to establish cultural and ideological hegemony. The regime is explained through the capturing of populist momentum by VMRO-DPMNE, riding on transitional dissatisfaction and ethno-nationalism. The chapter also outlines the various efforts of the political opposition and civil society to challenge corruption and clientelism, and the subsequent strategic coalitions between the two.

Keywords: authoritarianism, civil society, illiberalism, Macedonia, populism, social movements, Southeastern Europe, state capture, VMRO-DPMNE


The Republic of Macedonia became independent from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991. Its international recognition was immediately endangered, due to a naming dispute with its southern neighbour, Greece. After an interim agreement, the country was accepted by the United Nations under the provisional name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

In addition to the problematic transition and process of privatization, which most of the countries from the region also faced, the interethnic relations seemed to be the most challenging aspect, with around two-thirds of the population consisting of ethnic Macedonians, and roughly one quarter being ethnic Albanians. Although considered to be the only former Yugoslav republic to gain independence without a war,...

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