Democracy in the Western Balkans has been backsliding for a decade. There is no single turning point for the entire region, but the downward spiral began a decade ago, and accelerated with the economic crisis in 2008 and multiple crises within the EU that distracted the Union from enlargement.2 The regression happened in plain sight, but lacked the fanfare or highprofile watershed: There have been no controversial new constitutions, as in Hungary, or major constitutional revisions, as in Turkey next month. Autocrats in the Western Balkans rule through informal power structures, state capture by ruling parties, patronage and control of the media. Lacking the size and clout of Turkey or EU membership of Hungary, autocrats had to fly below the radar, allowing them to combine EU accession with stronger domestic control. Thus, the decline did not happen by stealth, but was ignored or downplayed by the European Union and the United States for too long.
Policy Paper: The Crisis of Democracy in the Western Balkans. Authoritarianism and EU Stabilitocracy
1 March, 2017