The Achilles Heel of Democracies in Southeast Europe: Responsiveness Trapped Between Clientelism and the EU

Petar Markovic

The process of democratic consolidation in the Western Balkans is a thorny subject both in practice and in academia. An apparent stalemate and the constrained development ofdemocracies in the former Yugoslav countries in particular seem to stem from a particularconjunction of internal factors that pertain to the relationship between citizens and the gov- erning political parties and external factors pertaining to the relationship between the EU asthe key promoter of democracy in the region and the domestic elites. This article attemptsto examine the state of democracy in Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as the only EUcandidate countries in the former Yugoslavia. Particular attention is paid to the speci citiesof domestic and external ‘democratic anchoring’ in these countries as well as the democraticquality of responsiveness. Following the elaboration of the research puzzle in the introduc-tion, Section II of the article brie y presents the framework of democratic consolidation and outlines how it might be used to analyse the selected cases. The analysis of the domesticdemаocratic anchoring focuses on a particular anchor the political elites in the region useto create intermediary structures that bond the voters to the political system – clientelism.External democratic anchoring revolves around the promotion of democracy by the EU asan external anchor of these three democracies. In Section III, the two anchoring mechanismsare assessed in the light of the data pertaining to responsiveness and the most recent ECCountry Reports. The conclusion section summarises the ndings of the article, indicatingthe lessons learned, as well as the constraints on and opportunities available to WesternBalkan democracies in the future.

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This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.