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Crisis Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia

The Study of Floods in 2014

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Edited By Vedran Džihić and Magdalena Solska

This comparative study at hand has been the result of a two-year research project on floods in 2014 in the Western Balkans engaging eight research teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. Representing quite different disciplines, the authors of this volume have analysed diverse aspects of the crisis governance and its ramifications. This publication’s goals are twofold. Firstly, it pins down the characteristics of the crisis responses during the floods of 2014 in three affected countries, preconditioned by the existing institutions, crisis leadership, the role of media and the social capital as well as the foreign financial aid. On the other hand, through the lenses of the crisis governance we conclude on the state capacities and the nature of political regime of the cases under study. The flood megacrisis did not constitute a "window of opportunity" for individual or institutional learning. On the contrary, it did unveil some authoritarian tendencies in Serbia and Bosnia, and thus stalled the hitherto ongoing democratization process.

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3. Leadership in Megacrisis: The Case of the 2014 Floods in Serbia (Marko Vujačić)

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MARKO VUJAČIĆ

3.  Leadership in Megacrisis: The Case of the 2014 Floods in Serbia

This chapter explores the role of political leadership during the 2014 floods crisis in Serbia, as well as the effects of the floods on the country’s democratization process. The theoretical perspective of megacrisis is used as a framework for analysis. The chapter focuses on the top political leadership in Serbia, namely the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, but also leadership at the lower levels of governance. In an attempt to overcome shortcomings in vertical and horizontal governance during the acute phase of the crisis, the leadership resorted to denial, blame avoidance, the blame game, populism and ultimately the instrumentalisation and abuse of power. The chapter argues that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić used the megacrisis to accumulate more power in his hands. His behaviour, actions and decisions had negative consequences for the rule of law, the separation of power and freedom of the media, thus affecting the country’s democratic transformation.

Keywords: accumulation of power, democratization process, floods, leadership, megacrisis

Introduction

The aim of this contribution is to explore the role of political leadership in times of megacrisis considering the case of 2014 floods crisis in Serbia, and to address the effects of such a perilous event on the country’s democratization process. My central argument is that the political leadership in Serbia, personified by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, but also leadership...

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