Crisis of Democracy or Renaissance of Authoritarinism? Authoritarian Challenges to New Democracies in the Western Balkans

November 14, 2012 // 3:30pm4:30pm

Western Balkans’ scholars argue that the region faces a new crisis of democracy and democratic values even before democracy became ‘the only game in town.’ The democratic transition has obviously not delivered on its promises. The global crisis of democracy and of traditional values and norms attached to democracy has become part of the current Balkans’ landscape. In the last few years and in the course of global crisis we have been observing growing authoritarian challenges to New Democracies in the Western Balkans. Such crisis changes the political landscape of the region resulting in an adaptation of political elites and modes of rule, and seeking for new tools to retain power and secure the legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry.

Vedran Dzihic, assistant professor at the Institute of Political Sciences at the University of Vienna, argues that current regimes in the Western Balkans increasingly seek answers to the political crisis by combining democratic with (newly) authoritarian practices and policies. The new “gray zone” regimes emerge, which keep the façade of democratic institutions and elections and combine them with new authoritarian policies (relaying on old authoritarian values like nationalism) thus damaging the very notion of democracy and limiting the effects of democratization. In his presentation, Dzihic will focus on new authoritarian challenges to democracy in the region by bringing some fresh and thought-provoking insights from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

Vedran Dzihic is currently Assistant Professor at the Institute for Political Sciences, University of Vienna, Senior Researcher at oiip – Austrian Institute for International Affairs and Co-Director of Center for Advanced Studies, South East Europe. He has been Austrian Marshall Plan Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Washington D.C. Recently, he co-edited two books in cooperation with Brookings Institutions Press and Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, Washington DC: “Unfinished Business. The Western Balkans and the International Community” (2012), together with Dan Hamilton, and “Looming Shadows. Migration and Integration at a Time of Upheaval. European and American Perspectives” (2012), together with Thomas Schmidinger.

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Assistant Professor, Institute of Political Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria
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