Embracing Democracy in the Western Balkans offers a comparative, cross-regional study of the politics and economics of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania from 1999 to the present. It was during this period that the first wave of post-communist regime transition ended and the region became more deeply involved in the challenges of democratic consolidation.

Lenard J. Cohen and John R. Lampe explore the legacies of communist rule, the impact of incentives and impediments on reform, and the magnetic pull of European Union accession. The authors ask whether the Western Balkans are embracing democracy by creating functional, resilient institutions—governmental, administrative, journalistic, and economic—and fostering popular trust in the legitimacy of those institutions.

Lenard J. Cohen is a professor of international studies at Simon Fraser University and author of Serpent in the Bosom: The Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic. John R. Lampe is a professor of history at the University of Maryland. He is a Senior Scholar and the former Director of East European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center and author of Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country.



Introduction: The Challenges of Postconflict Democracy Building

1. Legacies of Communism, Conflict, and International Intervention

2. New Regimes, Old Routines: Institutional Innovations and Governance Challenges

3. Administrative Development, the Rule of Law, and the Struggle against Corruption

4. Civic Engagement, Gender Politics, and Media Pluralism: Political Cultures in Flux

5. The Transformation of Political Parties in the Western Balkans: From Embryonic Pluralism to Europeanization

6. The Social Basis for Democratic Development: Elites, Middle Classes, and the Struggle against Poverty

7. The Transformation of Values: Coexisting Democratic and Illiberal Beliefs

8. Belated Economic Transitions: Promise and Problems

9. Democracy Building and EU Accession during a Global Recession

Epilogue: The Western Balkans and Postauthoritarian Lessons


“This book presents new information which is the result of recent research. The scholarship is superior. The authors have addressed almost all of the relevant topics in a discussion of democratization and integration.”—Nick Miller, Boise State University

“Impressively researched, well-written, carefully documented and closely reasoned.”—Survival

“Cohen and Lampe analyze the unsteady path toward democracy in the western Balkans.… In a welcome change from convention, the book is structured around thematic chapters rather than country case studies. The topics include constitutional structures, public administration, civil society, political parties, economic reform, social structure, and popular values.… The book is written in a clear, accessible style… A valuable overview for advanced students, and will be required reading for any government or nongovernmental organization official venturing into the Balkans.”—Choice

“This remains an impressive achievement that offers a valuable resource for specialists and non-specialists.”—Andrew Konitzer, Europe-Asia Studies