Macedonia at the Crossroads – Is Peaceful Transfer of Power Possible in Authoritarianism?

On March 1, President Ivanov denied Mr. Zoran Zaev, the leader of the Social Democratic Union, the right to form a government, despite evidence that he had secured a majority in the Macedonian Parliament. In explaining his decision during a televised address to the public, Ivanov listed formal and ‘substantive’ reasons for not granting the government mandate to Zaev. Most importantly, he claimed that he could not entrust the mandate to a person or a political party “who advocate or have in their political program a platform for...

The Romanian protests: democratic progress or a ride on a rocking-horse?

Throughout February, the Romanian people received international accolades for vigorously flexing their civic muscle against the government’s attempt to roll back hard-won achievements in the fight against corruption. While other member states in the European Union (EU) are grappling with the threat of illiberal disorder, the decisiveness with which hundreds of thousands of Romanians took to the streets in defence of their country’s anti-graft effort seemed to light a beacon of hope for democratic resilience. But are the Romanian protests really the bearer of good tidings for democracy, or...

Poverty in the Balkans

Poverty is a very sensitive and challenging issue in many countries. In the post-war Balkans context, poverty is also a major problem for security and relations between communities. In this note, I briefly discuss the concept of poverty and overview poverty conditions in the region, underlining their complexity, some implications, and the role of international aid in the fight against poverty.

DEFINING POVERTY

Poverty is a rather complex phenomenon combining...

Stefanović Case Will Test Serbian Judiciary’s Real Independence

After several sites on the Belgrade riverbank in the Savamala district were illegally demolished on April 25 in a well-coordinated action by a group of masked men in order to pave the way for the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić gave in to public pressure and promised that the state would investigate the incident, no matter how unpleasant the consequences might be for the ruling elite.

However, eight months after the incident, the only court action related to the case is not against the direct or indirect perpetrators of...

The elections in Macedonia brought political balance, but will they bring stability or restore democracy?

The early parliamentary elections, held on 11 December, had a very high turnout. In total, 1,191,521 voters (66.82% of the electorate) cast their ballot. In some electoral units the turnout was over 70%; however, it was lower in electoral unit six, where ethnic Albanians constitute a majority. There were a high number of invalid ballots (37,821). These were the most unpredictable elections Macedonia has had since its independence. The electoral competition was very close: pre-election polls showed that the VMRO-DPMNE, the incumbent party, led by two to four percent. SDSM, the opposition...

Macedonia: escape from the abyss or sinking even deeper?

The “most important” elections

On the 11th of December, the citizens of Macedonia will vote in yet another early election. Early elections have become the norm since 2006, when the last regular parliamentary elections were held. Many political and public personalities have described the current election cycle as Macedonia’s “most important” elections since its independence.  This election owes its importance to a two-year-long political crisis resulting from the revelation of a wire-tapping scandal by the main opposition party, SDSM. The scandalous content of the...

Extending the EU Semester Formula to the Balkans: Will it improve economic governance?

In 2013, the European Commission added economic governance to the fundamentals of the European Union’s (EU) enlargement strategy. The new approach to economic governance was implemented for the first time in 2015 and became fully operational in early 2016. This is a welcome development, but will the new...

The Balkan route backwards: refugees deported from Austria to Croatia

The Balkan corridor was officially closed in March 2016, having allowed the passage of around 700,000 migrants heading towards Northern Europe. Opened in September 2015, the route permitted migrants and asylum seekers to cross safely through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia before entering Austria. The flow of arriving refugees has reduced drastically since March 2016, but still hundreds of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty continue to cross the Western Balkans in the attempt to reach Northern Europe, now relying on ruthless smugglers.

But not even...

Trump, Putin, Europe and the Balkans: what happens next?

Sitting in the ‘Palata predsjednika Republike Srpske’, looking out across the autumnal vista in the adjacent park, Milorad Dodik is no doubt a happy man. As the last votes from Florida came in and one by one the swing states fell to president elect Donald Trump, Dodik’s (once unlikely) plan to split Bosnia in half and declare an independent Republic of Srpska just got a shot of epinephrine.

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Trumping the Balkans

While a number of commentators have noticed the parallels between Milošević and Trump (see here and here), little has been said on the impact a Trump presidency is likely to have for the Balkans. The only two places which have expressed their enthusiasm for Trumps victory are Sevnica and...

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