Can elections bring (real) change? Lessons learned and prospects for the Western Balkans

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Can elections bring (real) change? Lessons learned and prospects for the Western Balkans

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 - 5:00pm
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Venue: 
Zoom webinar
Speaker(s): 
Florian Bieber (Graz University; Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group)
Donika Emini (Civikos Platform; Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group)
Borisa Falatar (Nasa Stranka)
Vujo Ilic (CRTA, Serbia)
Jovana Marovic (Politikon Network, Montenegro; Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group)
Chair: 
Tena Prelec (DPIR, Oxford; Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group)
Convenor: 
Othon Anastasakis (SEESOX) and Tena Prelec (Oxford)
Series: 
SEESOX

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SEESOX Seminar Series

Abstract: In South East Europe, elections are often dismissed as mere window-dressing to democracy, churning the same elites over and over. However, recent votes have challenged that notion. Is a change on the horizon? Who are the actors participating in it? And how is the public responding to old and new challenges? The panel discussion will address these and other lessons learned and prospects for the region. The event will also provide insights from a new policy study on public attitudes towards elections in the six countries of the Western Balkans, published by the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group and drawing from a large-scale survey promoted by the European Fund for the Balkans.

About the EFB survey: in October 2020, Ipsos Strategic Marketing was commissioned by the European Fund for the Balkans to conduct a public opinion survey across the Western Balkans. The survey was conducted on a nationally representative sample of citizens in all 6 countries, consisting of minimum 1000 respondents, who were interviewed to find out their views on issues that range from European integration and elections to civic initiatives and conspiracy theories. You can access the data here

Event organised in partnership with the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group.

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Florian Bieber is a Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. He was previously Lecturer in East European Politics at the University of Kent, UK. He received his M.A. in Political Science and History and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Vienna, as well as an M.A. in Southeast European Studies from Central European University (Budapest). Between 2001 and 2006, he has been working in Belgrade (Serbia) and Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina) for the European Centre for Minority Issues. Florian Bieber is also a Visiting Professor at the Nationalism Studies Program at Central European University and taught at the University of Bologna and the University of Sarajevo. In 2010, he has been a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and in 2009 he held the Luigi Einaudi Chair at Cornell University, USA. His research interests include democratization, institutional design in multiethnic states, nationalism and ethnic conflict, as well as the political systems of South-eastern Europe. He published articles on institutional design, nationalism and politics in South-eastern Europe in Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, Third World Quarterly, Current History, International Peacekeeping, Ethnopolitcs and other journals. He is the author of Nationalism in Serbia from the Death of Tito to the Fall of Milošević (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2005, in German) and Post-War Bosnia: Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector (London: Palgrave, 2006) and edited and co-edited several books on South-eastern Europe, including most recently Debating the End of Yugoslavia (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014) with Armina Galijaš and Rory Archer and Universities and Elite Formation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (Vienna: Lit Verlag, 2015), with Harald Heppner. He is the editor of Contemporary Southeastern Europe and also the coordinator of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group.

Donika Emini (PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster, London) is leading the CiviKos Platform, a secretariat gathering 260 CSOs in Kosovo. She holds a scholarship of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and a master’s degree in Public Policy, specializing in Public and Non-Profit Management and International Relations. Upon her return from Germany to Kosovo, Ms. Emini was a recipient of the OSI – Think Tank Young Professional Development Program as part of the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies where she previously worked (2013-2019). Furthermore, she was a Research Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) Paris Office HQ – fellowship granted by European Fund for the Balkans. Previously, Ms. Emini worked with the Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin, Balkan Policy Institute (IPOL), and the General Consulate of the Republic of Kosovo in New York.

Boriša Falatar ran for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the October 2018 general elections as lead candidate of Naša Stranka, a social liberal party, member of ALDE / Renew Europe group. The innovative presidential campaign contributed to the party’s historic success, which quadrupled its number of parliamentary seats. Before entering politics, Boriša had a long career with the United Nations and other international organisations. He started working for the United Nations Protection Force as a teenager during war in his hometown of Sarajevo. Over the past two decades, he served with the UN and the ICRC across three continents, in humanitarian, political and diplomatic positions. He currently heads the regional office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Kiev, Ukraine. Boriša graduated from the American University of Paris and earned an MSc degree from the London School of Economics. He also holds a Master in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was an Edward S. Mason Fellow.

Vujo Ilić is a Policy and Research Advisor at Crta, an election observation organisation, and a Researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. His main areas of interest include democracy, elections, political conflicts and violence, focused on the Balkans. Recently, he participated in several election observation missions as an analyst, and prior to that in the citizens’ initiative Ne davimo Beograd campaign for local elections. Vujo received his PhD degree in Comparative Politics from the Central European University in Budapest. He has been a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Program on Order, Conflict and Violence, Yale University. His doctoral dissertation, a micro-comparative historical analysis of the civil war in Montenegro during the Second World War, has received the Central European University’s 2020 Best Dissertation Award.

Jovana Marović is Executive Director of the Politikon Network, a think tank based in Podgorica. She studied at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Belgrade where she received her doctorate. Between 2004 and 2016, Jovana worked as a Counselor for the European Union in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ multilateral department division. She also served as Advisor for International Relations and European Integration within the Cabinet of the Budva Municipality’s Mayor, acted as Research Coordinator at the Institute Alternative and was Special Advisor to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. She is a member of the BiEPAG and the Working Group for Chapter 23 of the European Commision’s acquis on European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations (dealing with Judiciary and Fundamental Rights), as part of the Montenegrin Accession Negotiations for EU membership.

Chair: Tena Prelec (PhD, Sussex University, School of Law, Politics and Sociology) is a Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford. Her work at DPIR centres on anti-corruption, money-laundering and reputation laundering, with a focus on Western countries’ role in the global dynamics of corruption. She is also an established analyst on the Western Balkans, including as a Research Associate at LSEE-Research on South Eastern Europe (London School of Economics and Political Science), a Region Head at Oxford Analytica, and a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG). Other research interests include diaspora studies, transnational authoritarianism, academic freedom (including as a member of the Academic Freedom and Internationalisation Working Group), and the intersection between governance and geopolitics.