Thirty years on: The end of the road for ex-communist elites?

Bulgaria protests

Thirty years on: The end of the road for ex-communist elites?

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 - 4:00pm
Zoom webinar
Mihail Chiru (Oxford School of Global and Area Studies)
Miloš Damnjanović (BIRN Consultancy)
Eli Gateva (Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford)
Jonathan Scheele (St Antony’s College,Oxford)
Jonathan Scheele (St Antony’s College,Oxford)

Over the thirty years since the fall of communism in the region, democratisation saw the development, in most countries of the region, of political parties whose roots sprang directly from the communist former ruling parties. Although some of these parties - often but not always ostensibly social-democratic - have fallen by the wayside, others have survived and prospered in the new environment, dominating the political scene, and running government for much of the period.

In recent years however, there are some signs that this “communist legacy” hegemony may be in decline. Grass roots protest against the corruption of the established political class has grown and some new, alternative parties, free from the communist legacy, are beginning to establish themselves; Romania is a particular example here. Nonetheless, these parties have maintained a strong core of support among certain sections of the population.

The webinar will compare the situations in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, and examine their implications for the long-term political development of these countries. While political elites in the region are far from lilywhite, irrespective of their party affiliation, the electoral dominance of the communist legacy parties has entrenched their ability to exploit power both to enrich themselves personally and to sustain their political hegemony. Against a background of popular protest, is this sustainable? Or does the protest signal a secular change within the political class in these countries?

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Mihail Chiru is a Lecturer in East European Politics at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. He has previously conducted postdoctoral research at UCLouvain and taught at the University of Southampton and at the Central European University in Budapest. He also conducted postdoctoral work at Median Research Centre in Bucharest. He received my PhD in Comparative Politics from the Central European University Budapest in 2015. His main research interests include the politics of Central and Eastern Europe; legislative organisation and legislative behaviour in the European Parliament; party politics and voting behaviour in Central and Eastern Europe.

Miloš Damnjanović has since 2007 worked as a free-lance political analyst, specialising in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and the rest of the Western Balkans. He also has significant experience working on corporate investigations. His main clients are comapnies based in the UK. In Serbia, he has worked on a number of projects in the governmental, development and NGO sectors. Following a short project implemented with the Serbian European Integration Office in 2012, he worked as a Research Analyst with the National Alliance for Local Development during the first half of 2013. From late 2013, he began working with GIZ's Support to the EU Accession Process in Serbia Project. In 2011, he completed a DPhil in Political Science at the University of Oxford, having previously completed an MSc in Politics and IR research at the same university and a BA in Economics and Politics at the University of Exeter. Overall, he has more than eight years of experience undertaking research and analysis focused on the Western Balkans, EU politics, politics, government and democratization.

Eli Gateva joined the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford in July 2020, having previously held academic posts at the University of Manchester, Queen Mary University of London, University of York and University of Nottingham. She was a Visiting Fellow at the LSEE – Research on South Eastern Europe based at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science (2015-2017). She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her main research interests include European Union politics, EU conditionality, EU Enlargement policy, democracy, East European Politics and anti-corruption policies. She has recently contributed to Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Her monograph European Union Enlargement Conditionality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) explores the nature and evolution of EU enlargement conditionality. Her current research analyses the impact of post-accession conditionality on the quality of democracy in EU member states.

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