Democracy in South East Europe: Backsliding or new normal?

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Democracy in South East Europe: Backsliding or new normal?

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 - 5:00pm
Zoom webinar
Damir Kapidzic (University of Sarajevo)
Milada Vachudova (North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Dimitar Bechev (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna)

Please register here


Abtract: This is the introductory seminar in the Hilary Term SEESOX series looking at the quality of democracy in South East Europe. The main questions for this first seminar are: has there been a slide into illiberalism or is this part of a long transition process? Are there common features and reasons for illiberal tendencies in these countries? What are the links -ideological and political- with developments in other European states beyond the region? Are illiberal tendencies reversible? The broader framework of the SEESOX seminar series on the quality of democracy will be on the different expressions of liberal and/or illiberal developments in the region and country specific,  including elections, strong executive, media freedom, rule of law, party politics and social protests.

Damir Kapidžić is an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His research looks at ethnic conflict, political parties and power-sharing, as well as the process through which democratic or authoritarian politics are institutionalized. Much of his focus is on countries in Southeast Europe, but also includes comparative perspectives from Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Middle East. At the University of Sarajevo, he is the principal investigator for the Horizon 2020 research project Contexts of Extremism in MENA and Balkan Societies. He is the editor of the recent special issue Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe (Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 20/1). More information and a full CV are available at:

Milada Vachudova specializes in party systems, political change in postcommunist Europe, European integration and the impact of international actors on domestic politics. Her recent articles explore the different trajectories of European states amidst rising support for ethnopopulism and democratic backsliding – and how these changes are impacting the European Union. She is a Jean Monnet Chair and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is part of the core team of the Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) on the positions of European political parties, having added the post-communist EU countries and candidates to the survey. Her book, Europe Undivided: Democracy, Leverage and Integration After Communism (Oxford University Press) was awarded the Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University. As a British Marshall Scholar, she completed an M.Phil. and a D.Phil. in the Faculty of Politics at the University of Oxford. She has held fellowships from the European University Institute (EUI), the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, the National Science Foundation, the Center of International Studies at Princeton University and many other institutions. 

Dimitar Bechev is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He is also a fellow at Europe's Futures Programme at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna,  as well as the director of the European Policy Institute, a think-tank based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Dr Bechev has published extensively, in both academic and policy format, on EU foreign relations, the politics of Turkey and the Balkans, Russian foreign policy, and energy security. His book Rival Power, published by Yale University Press in 2017, explores Russia’s role in Southeast Europe (Balkans, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey). He has held research and teaching positions at Oxford, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo as well as visiting fellowships at Harvard and the London School of Economics. From 2010 to 2014, he was the head of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) office in Sofia. Dr Bechev is a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera Online, Oxford Analytica, POLITICO, and EUObserver. His quotes have appeared in leading newspapers such as the Financial Times, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He holds a DPhil in international relations from the University of Oxford.

Chair: Othon Anastasakis (SEESOX) is a Senior Research Fellow at St Antony’s College; an Associate at the Department of Politics and International Relations; an Affiliate of the Centre for International Studies; an Affiliate of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA); and former Director of the European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford (July 2012-October 2015). He teaches “South East European politics and European integration” for the OSGA and “EU politics” for the Department of Continuing Education, Oxford. He is the Principal Investigator of two research projects: “Greek Diaspora Project at SEESOX”; and the Oxford/Berlin funded “Migration Diplomacy and Turkey-EU relations”. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada; Region Head of Europe in Oxford Analytica. His research interests are Balkan comparative politics, global and regional geopolitics, transition and democratisation in Southern and South Eastern Europe, Greek foreign policy, Greek-Turkish relations, European populism and extreme right, Russia in South East Europe, Greek and South East European diaspora, Turkey and the EU, Turkish foreign policy in the Balkans, EU’s enlargement.