Abusing democracy in the Western Balkans: Evidence from recent field research
Populism can be both a mode of political participation and a mode of political domination, as it is shown by the consolidation of populist regimes in Serbia and FYR Macedonia. The linguistic turn in the study of populism has sidelined the social and organizational study of populism, as well as the means which populist leaders use once in power. Aleksandar Vucic and Nikola Gruevski rely on a distinct populist discourse, but also on social class bases and organizational means which are characteristic of populism. Evidence from recent interviews in Belgrade and Skopje is used to discuss to what extent populist rule is associated with a backsliding from electoral democracy and the emergence of a new type of political regime, as another round of parliamentary elections approaches, in these two countries. Comparable trends of derailment of democracy, based on a variety of other causes, can be traced in other West Balkan countries.
Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos is associate professor of political science at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Athens. He has studied law, sociology and political science at the Law School of the University of Athens (LLB), the London School of Economics (MSc) and Yale University (MA, M.Phil. and Ph.D., awarded with distinction, 1991). In 2003 he was Senior Research Fellow at the Hellenic Observatory of the London School of Economics and in 2009-2010 Visiting Fellow in South East European Studies at the Centre for European Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford. He serves on the editorial board of the academic journals South European Society and Politics, European Political Science Review and the Greek Review of Political Science.