Election Consolidation in the Post-Communist Balkans: Progress and Obstacles

The paper discusses some common themes in the electoral practices of the Balkan countries, yet it also acknowledges the variance of electoral developments among the different states. As with most aspects of Balkan democratization, competitive elections during the last 25 years of post-communist experience have seen notable progress as well as backsliding. The paper regards electoral politics in the Balkan states as a mixture of internal constraints and external agenda setting. It argues that despite some “pockets” of electoral instability and uncertainty, all Balkan states have now become consolidated electoral democracies with largely fair practices and with decreasing levels of fraud or violence, and an established culture of power sharing and coalition building. At the same time, this post-communist electoral consolidation has also created a pattern whereby elections are the battleground of divisive elites in the pursuit of influence, power and political clients, amid non-ideological party politics. In this weak and volatile periphery of Europe, the international community becomes engaged during electoral periods, and interferes in some form or another to monitor, set the priorities or even affect outcomes.

Authors: Othon Anastasakis